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The Elementary Forms, Methods of Construction and 
Dimensions of Common Articles of Furniture 














JAN 3 1916 


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THIS book for the use of students, architects and others 
who at times find it desirable to make drawings for 
furniture, has been prepared from material collected during 
an experience of some years as a designer of furniture for 
several of the most important furniture-makers in New York 

It is assumed that a knowledge of how projection and per- 
spective drawings are made has been obtained, and that the 
general principles of design and ornamental forms are famil- 
iar to the reader. It describes methods of construction as 
far as they relate to draughtsman's work, but stops there, 
for it is not the intention to make this an instruction book 
for those who wish to become cabinet-makers. The "man at 
the bench" may, however, find the parts relating to designing 
of interest even though the practical details are already- 
known, and seem to him incomplete because many mechani- 
cal matters that he realizes are necessary in making furni- 
ture are not mentioned. 

Construction details that have been omitted were not 
thought essential to the draughtsman, and if known by him 
would be of no service in making the design or working 
drawing, as they would not appear on either. 

A. C. N. 
New York City, 1900. 


Preface 3 

Definitions, Classification, Proportion 9 

Tables, Turnings, Cross Veneering 15 

Chairs, Seats, Sofas, Upholstery 37 

Casework, Panelling, Bedsteads 57 

The Drawer 81 

Ornamentation of Furniture 86 

Theories of Design, Rendering 94 

The "Louis" Furniture Styles 115 


Frontispiece. Louis XIV. Desk. 

I. The Construction of a Table. 

II. Chair and Table Legs. 

III. French Chair Leg. 

IV. Drop Leaf Tables. 
V. Pivoted Top Tables. 

VI. Extension Tables. 

VII. Chairs. Front and Side Elevations. 

VIII. Arm Chairs. Seat Plans. Stretchers. 

IX. Outline of Chair Backs. 

X. Composition of Chair Backs. 

XI. Construction and Upholstery of Chairs. 

XII. Composition and Proportion. 

XIII. Case Construction. 

XIV. Mouldings and Panels. 

XV Hanging Doors and Lids. 

XVI. The Drawer. 

XVII. Ornamental Chair Backs. 

XVIII. Louis XV. Table. 

XIX. Louis XVI. Cabinet. 

XX. Louis XIV. Chair. 

XXI. Louis XIV. Chair. 

XXII. Louis XV. Chair. 

XXIII. Louis XVI. Chair. 

XXIV. Louis XVI. Chair. 
XXV. Louis XV. Chair. 



Acanthus 121 

Bedstead framing 79 

Card table hinge 31 

Effect of mouldings 62 

Inlay, Louis XIV 126 

J oints 65 

Louis Styles Ornaments 119 

Meeting stiles for hinged doors 75 

Meeting stiles for sliding doors 75 

Outline Plans, Louis XIV. and Louis XV 114 

Outline Plans, Louis XVI 117 

Pin hinge 72 

Secretary hinge 76 

Table Legs 117 

Table Legs 123 

Turnings 21 


Arm chairs, Plans of, 46. 

Applique metal work, 91. 

Bandy legs, 16. 

Brackets, supporting leaves, 28. 

Banister back chair, 45. 

Bearer, 82. 

Bedstead, 78. 

Bookcase, 77. 

Burnt ornament, 92. 

Built-up table top, 24. 

Butt joint, 66. 

Cane seats, 56. 

Case work, proportion, composition, 57. 

Case work, construction, 65. 

Classification, 9, 10. 

Castors, 47. 

Carving, 86, 87, 88. 

Chair, plan of arm, 46; arms, 48; banis- 
ter back, 45 ; carved back, 88 ; cano 
seat, 56 ; construction, 45 ; dimensions, 
46; elementary forms, 37; four backed, 
46; for use at table, 48; Hepplewhite, 
49; parts of, 37; rush seat, 55; seat 
dimensions, 47, 48; stretchers, 46; 
scissor pattern, 38 ; slope back, 49 ; 
upholstered, 49; Windsor, 38; wood 
seat, 45. 

Cover, for upholstery, 55. 

Cross veneering, 24. 

Composition of case work, 57. 

Construction of bedsteads, 79; drawers, 
81; case work, 65; chairs, 45; tables, 

Draw table, 51. 

Drawer, hanging, 82; slides, 85; triangu- 
lar, 85; depth of, 81; pivoted, 85; for 
music cabinets, 83; construction, 81; 
runners, 82. 

Desk lids, 76. 

Dimensions of bedsteads, 80; case work, 
78; chairs, 56; component parts, 11; 
sofas, 56; tables, 23. 

Disposition of ornament, 93. 

Doors, sliding, 75; swinging, 72. 

Dove tail, 67. 

Dowel joint, 24. 66. 

Drop leaves, 27. 

Dust panel, 82. 

Extension table, 31. 

French bandy legs, 16. 

First things considered, 11. 

Finger joint, 28. 

Four-backed chair, etc., 46. 

Furniture, what is good, 12; plan, 114. 

Glazing, 71. 

Hepplewhite chair, 34, 49. 

Hinging, 71. 

Joints. 66; knuckle, 28; finger, 28; mitre, 
66; mortise and tenon. 67; rule, 27. 

Leaves, for table, 27. 

Llning-up, 24. 

Marquetry, 92. 

Mediums, for sketching, 63. 

Meeting stiles, 72. 

Mirrors, 71. 

Mortise and tenon, 67. 

Mouldings, 61 effect of, 62; ornamenta- 
tion, 65. 

Music cabinets, 85. 

Ornament, 93; painted, 92. 

Over-stuffed work, 53. 

Originality, 94. 

Ormolu, 91. 

Plan, furniture, 114; chair seat, 38. 

Panels, 67. 

Painted ornament, 92. 

Perforated carving, 88. 

Pivot hinge, 72; top table, 28. 

Pivoted drawer, 85. 

Rush seat chairs, 55. 

Rule joint, 22. 

Runners, 82. 

Scale of sketches, 96. 

Stability, of tables, 22. 

Seats, plans of, 38; wood, 45. 

Sketch, purpose of, 95; scale, 96; medi- 
ums, 113. 

Stiles, 94. 

Spread, of table feet, 22. 

Stretchers, chairs, 4Q; table, 21. 

Shelving, 77. 

Slides, for extension tables, 32; drawers, 

Sliding doors, 75. 

Shieldback, 38. 

Stiles, meeting, 72. 

Scissor chair, 38. 

Sofas, 56. 

Stub tenon, 67. 

Stumbling block, 11 

Tables, construction of, 23 ; draw, 33 ; 
definition of, 15; extension 31; frame 
of, 22; height, 22; leaves, 27; legs, 16; 
overhang, 22 ; parts of, 15 ; spread of 
feet, 22; stability of, 22; tops, built- 
up, 24. 

Tracings paper, use of, 96. 

Turnings, 21. 

Tufting, 64. 

Upholstery, 49; block, 53. 

Varnishing, 86. 

Veneers, 91; built-up, 24. 

Vernis Martin, 92. 

Wood, qaulities of, 10; seat, 45. 

Windsor chair, 38. 

Wrought iron, 91. 



Definitions, Classification, Etc. 

FURNITURE designing is the art of delineating and ornament- 
ing household effects so they become objects of beauty and 
pleasure as well as service. Furniture designing means giving 
thought and study to the proposed plan ; the seeking for the best 
forms, sizes, proportions, materials, and workmanship to produce 
what is required. It may be necessary to make several attempts be- 
fore success is attained, but the result will be the best individual 
effort. In this sense designed furniture should be useful, handsome, 
and well made of properly selected material used in an attractive 
way. Furniture may be made without any special study or thought, 
the result being mechanical, careless and lacking in artistic qualities. 
A mechanic may make something that is serviceable but extremely 
ugly, and without design. If, however, he has the personal quality 
that causes him to take pride in the appearance of his work com- 
bined with the knowledge of how to proceed to obtain the beautiful 
he will become a designer, for he will put his mind to his work, 
giving it a personality, independent of chance effects. 

Furniture made without this thought and study brings to the mind 
at once the feeling that something is wanting. Either the lines indi- 
cate an indecision in the mind of the maker, or the methods employed 
in its construction show no desire to produce the best effect with the 

Furniture can be divided into three classes, according to use. 

First, DOMESTIC FURNITURE, including that for dwellings 
of every rank. 


Second, CIVIL FURNITURE, that for public buildings and 
places of business. 


Furniture may also be divided into two groups named for the 
methods of construction. The first, Fratnezvork, includes seats, tables, 
mirrors, screens, etc., and all articles not boxed in. The second. 
Casework, includes chests, bureaus, sideboards, desks, etc., and all 
articles which are cased (boxed) in by panel work or its equivalent. 

The materials from which furniture is usually made are wood, 
metal and stone. The use of metal and stone need not be considered 
here, because these materials are employed for extraordinary furni- 
ture of a more or less fixed architectural character not strictly within 
the general accepted meaning of the word. The natural material is 
wood, which has many qualities to recommend it. It is abundant, 
easily obtained, and easily prepared in convenient form for use. It 
is of light weight so that objects made from it are not heavy enough 
to become inconvenient, and it is sufficiently strong to serve all prac- 
tical purposes. 

The ease with which it is worked into the forms desired, and the 
facility with which necessary repairs may be made are recommenda- 
tions in its favor. In addition to these advantages, which may be 
called technical, there are the aesthetic and physical reasons why 
wood is superior to other materials. It is agreeable to the eye in its 
natural state, which furnishes a large variety of colors, but if these 
do not meet the requirements stains of any shade can be applied with 
ease. It also assumes, under proper conditions, a polish of a greater 
or less degree. There are no objectionable sensations experienced 
when it is touched by the hand, as it is not hard or harsh, nor is the 
temperature unpleasant. 

The kind of wood used may have an influence on the character of 
the design. Some woods are of a coarse, open grain hardly adapted 
to small details or fine work. Such woods are oak and ash. They are 
well suited to large, heavy articles for severe usage, and of broadly 
executed design. Woods like mahogany, satinwood and maple are 
of a fine, close grain and admit of a more delicate treatment. Mould- 
ings and carvings in these woods may be smaller in detail than seems 
proper for those of a coarser grain. This feeling is quite well recog- 
nized by everyone, so that furniture for halls, libraries, etc., is often 
of the coarse woods, reserving those of finer grain for the living- 
room, parlors and bedrooms. 


The character of the wood need not affect the quality of the de- 
sign, as each variety may receive equal aesthetic treatment. The bold, 
coarse work may have just as much feeling expressed in the design 
as the more delicate. It is not the material used that is the most im- 
portant consideration, but the form and proportion of the article, 
and the harmony of the design with the surroundings. It is the 
study of these conditions that gives opportunity for the designer to 
display his skill. He asks himself : Shall the article be square or 
oblong? Shall it be high or low in proportion to the width? Or if, 
as frequently is the case, one or two dimensions are given, what will 
be the best proportion for the other? 

After the general proportion and form is determined, then the 
dimensions of the component parts are considered, and it may hap- 
pen that these will be the only ones left for the designer, as the con- 
ditions of the problem sometimes fix all other sizes. By the 
component parts is understood (taking a table as an example) the 
relation of the size of the leg to the whole, the thickness of the top, 
and its projection ; the depth of the frame, etc. Such questions must 
be answered for every article, and on the solution depends the qual- 
ity of the design. 

The stumbling block for beginners in design is the habit of think- 
ing in feet and inches. One of the first questions usually asked by 
students is, how many inches wide shall this, or that, be made? 
There is a feeling that because it cannot be answered at once it is 
impossible to make the drawing correctly. It is not necessary, in 
most instances, to know the figure, as the dimension is dependent 
entirely on the sense of proportion and practicability. All dimen- 
sions fixed by common usage are known or given to the designer ; 
the others should be determined by the knowledge obtained from 
experience and observation. As the designer becomes proficient he 
learns that within limits a square post of a given size may be used in 
certain places, but whether it will look better a little larger or a 
little smaller is determined by judgment. 

The sizes of material found in stock need not interfere with the 
expressing of ideas that may occur. Lumber can be obtained of 
almost any size desired, and if it is not at hand the next largest 
dimension can readily be cut down, at the small expense for waste 
and labor, which in special work is hardly to be considered. It cer- 
tainly is not advisable to spoil a good design in order to use material 
without cutting a little to waste. 


A good piece of furniture must be adapted to the intended use, 
and it should not defy the laws of nature even in appearance. It is 
not sufficient for it to be strong, but it must appear so, that no 
thought of weakness may occur; nor ought it to appear unstable. It 
must be well constructed, otherwise it soon becomes broken or 
rickety ; and when new, if carelessly made, there will be something 
about it to cause dissatisfaction. It ought to be pleasing to the eye, 
not only in design but in workmanship, and its form should express 
its purpose. Excessive ornamentation is to be avoided. It is better 
to have too little ornament than too much. 

Construction has been placed second in these requirements for 
good furniture, believing that by following the laws of utility and 
construction natural and rational forms will be obtained. A de- 
signer should, then, have a little knowledge of the principles of con- 
struction, and in the following chapters the usual methods will be 
described as far as is necessary for the needs of a draughtsman. 

pun I. 





T° Top. 


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THE table consists of a flat, level surface, suitable to receive 
whatever may be placed upon it, supported on one or more 
uprights. The word table properly applies to the top, which in early 
times was called a board, and it was, indeed, nothing more, the sup- 
ports being trestles not attached in any way to the top itself. The 
top may be made of wood, marble, glass, etc., and is spoken of ac- 
cordingly as a wooden table, marble table, glass table, etc. If the 
material is not mentioned, it may be supposed to be of wood. The 
name of the material is sometimes linked with the geometrical form 
of the top ; thus, a square table, a circular marble table, an oval slate 
table, etc. 

Tables are made high or low, according to the purpose for which 
they are used, and may be either with or without drawers. They are 
composed of three parts — the top, the frame and the legs. Plate I. 
The top has been described above. The frame is composed of hori- 
zontal rails immediately beneath the top and parallel with its edge. 
It is sometimes omitted on small tables, called "stands," but is com- 
mon for the larger varieties. It serves as a means of binding the sup- 
ports and top together as well as strengthening the top, which might 
otherwise sag beneath its load. The depth of frame gives apparent 
as well as real solidity to the whole structure. The legs are the sup- 
ports for the table, and may be secured in several ways to the frame, 
or its equivalent. There may be but one leg, or post, directly under 
the center of the top, and ending at the floor in a spreading foot, 
thus forming a "pillar table." There may be two uprights, one at the 
middle of each end of a rectangular top, terminating in spreading 
feet, usually connected by a horizontal rail near the floor. There 
may be three, four or more legs, but four are most frequently used. 
These legs may be of an endless variety of shapes, and decorated by 
mouldings, carving, inlay, etc. 

On Plate II. are shown twelve legs, which can be termed elemen- 

1 6 TABLES. 

tary forms, as nearly all others can be reduced to one of these. They 
are shown as chair legs, but they differ from table legs in proportions 
only. By comparing the plans and elevations, the drawings explain 
themselves clearly ; but it is desirable to study particularly numbers 
ii and 12. Eleven is the "bandy leg," with the ball and claw-foot 
used on "Dutch" and "Colonial" furniture. In many ways it re- 
sembles 12, which is the "Louis XV.," or "French bandy leg." This 
latter is much lighter, more graceful and ornamental than the Dutch 
form, but it at times seems too frail to support the weight it carries ; 
and, again, the curved lines make it appear as if bending beneath the 
strain. In many of the exaggerated patterns of these legs the vio- 
lent curvature causes the defects not only to become more prominent, 
but actually makes the leg weak. If the curvature is great, the ver- 
tical grain of the wood crosses it at one or more points, and at each 
of these places there is danger of the leg breaking. By examining 
the drawings Nos. n and 12 (a larger drawing of 12 in three posi- 
tions is shown on Plate III.) it will be seen that a vertical line may 
be drawn throughout the entire length of the leg without intersecting 
its curved outline. This vertical line represents, then, a portion of 
the stick from which the leg is cut that has not had the strength 
weakened. The leg increases in strength directly in proportion as 
the distance betwen the contour lines and such a vertical widens. 
The draughtsman is to observe that, although moulded and cut in 
irregular forms, the cross-section of this leg at any place is prac- 
tically square, and that in making it a square stick is first sawn so as 
to have the shape shown as front and side elevation, Plate III., and 
then turned over at right angles, on the vertical axis, and the same 
form cut again. As a result the diagonal view will curve as shown. 
When the leg is complete and casually examined it is seen in the 
diagonal view. It is with the recollection of such a view in mind 
that the designer too frequently lays out the curve for the front and 
side elevation, giving them the sharp sweep he really intends for the 
diagonal resultant curve. When the work is made from such a 
drawing the draughtsman is surprised to find how great the curve 
is In designing the bandy leg the proper method is to draw its 
three elevations and plans as on Plate III. and study the outlines 
carefully till sure they are right. 

Whatever may be the shape of table legs, they should be propor- 
tioned to the dimensions of the top, that they may not seem either 
too frail or stronger than necessary for the purpose of support. 



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Occasionally it may be desirable to make them so small and delicate 
that the table becomes shaky, owing to the elasticity of the wood, 
though they may be quite strong enough in appearance, and in 
reality to sustain the weight intended to be placed on them. When 
such is the case the legs can be connected, near the floor, by hori- 
zontal braces, known as stretchers. Plate VIII. shows three arrange- 
ments of stretchers as applied to chairs, and those for tables are 
similar. Stretchers are sometimes used for aesthetic reasons when 





not needed to stiffen the support. Tables having legs like Nos. 7 
and 8, Plate II., do not look well without stretchers; the baluster 
forms of the turnings and the heavy foot of each leg seeming to 
demand a framework binding the supports together. 

Turnings are used continually in the construction of furniture, and 
they always appear smaller than a square stick of the same dimen- 
sions. This is apparent in the above illustrations. No. 1 shows the 
projection of the corner of a parallelopiped beyond the inscribed 



cylinder turned from it. The angular projection exists whenever an 
abrupt change from a square to a turned section is made. As this 
is objectionable in furniture work, it is cut away by rounding off the 
angle, as in No. 2, or by moulding it, as in No. 3. Nevertheless, if, 
as in these examples, the diameter of the cylinder and the side of 
the square are the same, the turning appears so much smaller than 
the square portion of the stick that the transition is too great. 

When the design will admit, the square parts of the stick are cut 
down after the turning is made, so that they are a trifle smaller than 
the turned portions. This makes the two sections seem more nearly 
of the same dimensions, and is shown in No. 4, where a torus and 
fillet are also introduced to make the change of form more gradual. 
This same feature is shown in No. 5, where the angles of the square 
are cut away. The square is smaller than the diameter of the turn- 
ing, and the torus is introduced to grade the transition. No. 6 is a 
longitudinal section of No. 5. The use of the torus or a bead be- 
tween the square and turned parts of a post seems desirable in most 
cases, whatever the profile of the turning. No. 7 shows it in use on 
a twisted turning. 

The depth of the frame of the table is largely a matter of indi- 
vidual taste. If, however, the table is one at which a person is to sit, 
with his knees beneath it, the frame must not be so deep as to reduce 
ihe space between its lower edge and the floor to less than two feet. 

An important condition of beauty in a table is its stability. It 
should not appear insecure on its feet, as happens if the legs are 
placed too far beneath the top. A safe guide is not to make the 
spread of the feet of a table less than two-thirds the spread of the 
top ; or, in other words, the overhang is one-sixth of the top. The 
overhang may be considerably more than this before the table be- 
comes dangerously insecure, but it will have, nevertheless, an ap- 
pearance of instability, especially if the width of the top is less than 
the height above the floor. 

It is well to round off slightly the corners of rectangular tables, 
that they may not present a sharp angle. 

The size of a table is determined by its use and the location it is to 
occupy. Unless intended for a special purpose it is thirty inches 

Possibly the most important uses to which tables are put are those 
of dining and writing. For either of these a table thirty inches high 
can be and is used continually, but there are those who find this 



somewhat too high. A dining table should be sufficiently low that a 
person need not raise the elbows when cutting his food, and that his 
plate rests well below him. If a writing table is too high, it is tire- 
some to sit at and write. Many dining tables and writing tables are, 
therefore, made but twenty-nine inches high. The side table used in 
dining rooms as a place from which to serve dishes or to carve 
should be thirty-six inches high. 

A dressing table is made thirty inches high, unless the person to 
use it requests that it be made otherwise. Parlor, fancy tables, etc., 
intended for ornamental use only, are made to correspond with the 
surroundings of the rooms in which they are placed, and may be any 
desired height, as they are neither intended to sit or stand at. The 
following list will give the dimensions of tables of average sizes that 
have been made and found satisfactory. It will serve as a guide or 
starting point in laying out new designs : 


Variety. Length. Width. Height Remarks. 

Bedroom 31 22 29 

- 18 18 30 Commode. 

Bijou _ 30 22 30 

Carving table 42 20 36 

Dressing table 36 20 30 

Extension table _ 66 66 30 Round. 

54 54 30 Square. 

Library table 51 41 30 Oval. 

" 42 27 29 

" 54 34 29 

" 60 36 29 

Tea table 13 13 20 Round. 

" 18 18 24 

" I 23 23 18 Upper Shelf. ) 

" 130 17 29 LowerShelf. ( 

Note: All dimensions are in inchei. 

The parts of a table have already been named ; it remains to see 
how they are put together. 

The frame is joined to the legs either by the mortise and tenon or 
by doweling. The former joint was the old way of framing, but 
since the introduction of dowels the tenon has largely gone out of 
use among furniture makers. They consider it old-fashioned. And 
owing to the shrinkage of the tenon or the carelessness with which 
it is made, it does not seem as strong or equal to a dowel-joint. 

The mortise and tenon consists of a tongue (tenon) cut on the 
end of one of the joined pieces so as to fit tightly in a cavity (mor- 
tise) sunk in the other piece. In table work the tenon is on the end 
of the frame, and may or may not be its full width, while the mortise 
is in the leg. Plate I. 


The dowel joint derives its name from the dowel, a wooden pin, 
used for fastening the two pieces together by inserting part of its 
length in one piece, the rest of it entering a corresponding hole in 
the other. Where possible, more than one dowel is used. In table 
work two or more are fitted in holes bored for them in the end of the 
frame, and in the proper position on the legs are corresponding holes 
in which the dowels fit, and are glued when the two parts are brought 
together. Some small tables are constructed without a frame; in 
place of it there is a wooden cleat fastened to the underside of the 
top and the full diameter of the leg is inserted in this block ; or if 
the leg is of large size it is tenoned into the block. 

The top of a table may be solid or veneered. When small and 
cheap work is desired, it can be made of solid wood ; but otherwise 
it should be built up and veneered. Solid wood tops shrink, crack, 
or warp. The only sure way of avoiding these unfortunate occur- 
rences is to "build-up" the top. The building up process consists in 
constructing a core of some common, well-dried, lifeless wood, pre- 
ferably chestnut or pine. This core is of several strips of wood 
doweled together at the edges until a board is made about the size of 
the required top. These strips are arranged in a way that the annu- 
lar rings curve in opposite directions in each alternate piece. The 
core is next cross-veneered on both sides with hardwood, generally 
oak. A cross-veneering is laid so that the grain is at right angles to 
that of the wood on which it is applied. In table work it is at right 
angles to the grain of the core and the finish veneer; both of these 
naturally follow the length of the top. All around the edge of the 
top, after it is cross-veneered, is fastened a strip of the finish wood 
of the table (Plate I.). Finally, both sides are again veneered with 
the finish wood; that is, if the wood is not too expensive. If it is 
costly, a cheaper veneer is placed on the underside. 

When the design calls for the edge of the top to appear thick, it is 
a needless waste of material to construct it of wood the full thick- 
ness, besides making an unnecessarily heavy piece of furniture. To 
avoid this and yet obtain the appearance wanted, a frame of wood is 
fastened to the underside of the otherwise thin top, giving the thick- 
ness required. This frame is called the lining piece, and the top is 
said to be lined up. 

The method of fastening the top to the frame of the table varies 
with the class of work and the size. If it is a small table, no special 
care is taken, the fastening consisting of screws driven through the 


Plate IV. 



rail into the underside of the top. If the rail is narrow and thick 
enough, the screw is set straight through it. If, however, it is a 
wide rail, the screws are driven in recesses cut for them on the inner 
side. Most tables are too large to admit of this method. A top 
fastened as just described is held fast to the frame, so if shrinkage 
takes place there is a strain somewhere that may result in a cracked 
top. To allow for any movement that may occur, short blocks hav- 
ing a tongue that fits securely in a groove cut on the inner side of 
the table frame are screwed to die underside of the top. These 
blocks hold the top firmly in position, and yet if a shrinkage takes 
place they are free to move in the grooved frame. 

Tables are frequently provided with a drawer either in the frame 
or hung beneath the top on cleats. How drawers are made, and the 
different kinds, are described in Chapter V. 

There are occasions that require a table larger than it is convenient 
to keep standing continually in a room. In early times, when tables 
were nothing more than boards resting on trestles, if they were not 
needed the board was turned up against the wall and the trestles 
stowed away. When the top and the supports became fastened 
together, methods were invented for reducing the size of the table, 
that it might not take up too much space, or for enlarging it for 
special purposes. One of these methods is the use of leaves or flaps 
that fold down against the side of the legs. Two things are to be 
observed in such tables — the way the leaves are hinged, and how 
they are supported when raised. 

In cheap work the edges of the leaves and top, where they meet, 
are cut straight and square, forming a plain joint, and the leaf is 
hung with a hinge on the underside. Plate IV., No. I. When 
hung in this way a small crack is seen between the top and the leaf 
as the latter hangs down, and the hinge also shows. 

In better work both these things are considered faults, and to 
avoid them the rule joint is used. Plate IV., No. 2. This joint is 
made by moulding both the edge of the leaf and the top where they 
meet, the moulding on the leaf being the reverse of that on the top. 
The top is cut with a projecting tongue, rounded like a quarter cylin- 
der, and the leaf is hollowed to receive it. The hinges are sunk into 
the underside of the top and leaf, with their center corresponding 
with the center of the quarter round moulding of the meeting edges. 
Then as the leaf swings up or down its rebated edge fits snugly 
against the moulded edge of the top. The hinge is practically con- 
cealed and there is no open joint. 


There are small tables made with two leaves hinged in a similar 
way to that just described, so when both are down the table is no 
wider than the cylinder plus the thickness of the leaves. 

Leaves may be supported by brackets attached to the frame and 
swinging out under them. The brackets may be hung with metal 
hinges, but better ways are illustrated in Plate IV., Nos. 3 and 4. 
These drawings show folding brackets somewhat similar in construc- 
tion made by fastening to the side rail of the table frame a block 
with one end cut so as to interlock with one end of the bracket. A 
metal pin through the two pieces where they interlock serves as an 
axis on which the bracket turns. In No. 3, the finger joint, the 
corners of the working parts are beveled off, that the bracket may 
turn. In No. 4, the knuckle joint, they are rounded so the parts fit 
clearly and are in contact in whatever position the bracket may be. 
The finger joint can be made the strongest, as more wood may be 
left between the pin axis and the ends of the tongues than in the 
other. The knuckle joint is considered the neatest, but it is more 
difficult to construct, and as the bracket is hidden from view the 
difference in appearance does not warrant its use. 

Sometimes, when the depth of the frame will permit, a portion of 
it may be cut so as swing on a pin at the middle, and, thus, when 
turned at right angles to the frame, one half is beneath the top. the 
rest acting as a support to the leaf. Plate IV., No. 5. 

Bracket supports are not strong, and a table with a large leaf is 
unstable. To obviate this, tables are made with a leg that swings 
out under the leaf, giving it support, and stability to the table. When 
such a table has a stretcher, the movable leg is strengthened by 
fastening it to a hinged bracket at the stretcher level, in addition to 
the one on the frame. Another way of supporting drop leaves is 
to arrange slides that may be pulled out from the table frame beneath 
the leaves when they are raised. 

The tables described thus far have the top fixed, but there are 
those with the tops pivoted, so when they are turned about the pivot 
a quarter way round, the leaves will be supported by the frame of 
the table, which in the revolved position of the top lies beneath them. 
Two varieties of this style are illustrated on Plate V. The first is an 
old-style drop-leaf table pivoted at the middle of the top. By raising 
both leaves and turning the top on its pivot the ends of the frame are 
brought beneath the leaves to support them. The second table is in 
more common use. The top is of two parts, of the same size and 
shape, hinged together so one part folds over on the other. When 


Plat, V. 

!*5tTI<>NJ of T»P 



POTION of T°f 

mm w 




folded the top is but half the size it is when open, and can be turned 
on the pivot to a position over one end of the frame with the hinged 
edges directly across the middle. The upper leaf may then be un- 
folded and will rest on the other end of the frame. Such tables are 
usually square when open, and are spoken of as card tables. 


-TS(f . 

66 © 




Card -table Hiriat. 

The hinges used for joining the two parts of the top are not ordi- 
nary butts. They are of a special form, as will be seen from the 
adjoining illustration, and are placed at each end of the leaves, with 
the screws driven into the edges. This avoids the appearance of any 
objectionable metal work on the surface of the table top, as would 
be the case if ordinary butts were used with their entire flaps ex- 
posed to view. The card table hinge has no projecting knuckle above 
the surface of the table, as its parts, instead of turning on a single 
pin, are joined by a link turning on a pin in each flap of the hinge. 
This link is flush with the edge of the table when the leaves are 
closed, and flush with the top when they are open. There are other 
forms of this hinge available. 

Other ways of increasing the size of tables are shown on Plate 
VI. These are extension tables. 

The upper one is the old "draw table," and is not used much now. 
A study of the drawings will show that the leaves enlarging the 
table are slides that pull out from beneath the top. Each slide is 
about half the length of the top, so the table is nearly doubled in 
length when both are pulled out. It should be noted, too, that to be 
of service the slide must be pulled out its full length ; otherwise the 
top and slide are not on the same level. This means that there are 
but two changes in size for this kind of a table. Either it is in- 
creased by the whole of one leaf or by both. The top of the table is 
not solidly fastened to the frame, but is free to move vertically a 
little, though prevented from moving in any other direction by keys 
fastened to its underside and passing through a rail the same thick- 
ness as the leaves, fastened to the frame. Each side has two bear- 



ing pieces fastened to its underside, one at each end. The bearing 
pieces are as long as the frame of the table, or a little longer, and 
when the slide is drawn out one end of them bears against the under- 
side of the rail to which the top is keyed, while their lower edge rests 
on the frame of the table, notched to receive it. They are cut at the 
proper level, so when drawn out the top and slide are on a level, and 
the slide is held securely in place against the edge of the top. 

The common extension table is familiar to everyone. The illus- 
tration presents it in the simplest form. It is really a table with a 
telescopic frame, and provided with extra sections of a top that may 
be added till the frame is extended its full length. The leaves are 
made of sizes from twelve inches to twenty wide, and the tables are 
made to extend as desired, the average being from twelve to sixteen 

Each manufacturer has his own method of constructing the tele- 
scopic frame, or slides, as they are called, the differences depending 
on patented devices for holding the slides together. The principle, 
however, is the same in all. Plate VI. illustrates a section through 
two slides, showing one device. The sides of the slides are grooved 
to receive keys that dovetail them together. Each slide, when pulled 
out to the extreme, laps over those adjoining it about one-third, and 
stops are provided to prevent their being separated more than this. 
The slides are of wood, an inch and a half to two inches thick, nearly 
as wide as the table frame is deep and about as long as the under- 
side of the table when closed will permit. The number of slides 
depends on the length to which the table is to be extended. There 
are two sets — an odd number on each side of the table. The outer 
pair are screwed firmly to the underside of one-half of the top, and 
the inner pair to the other half. All the slides except these are free 
to move. As most tables extend too much for the slides to support 
the weight at the middle, it is usual to provide a center leg. This 
leg is fastened to the middle of a transverse rail screwed securely to 
the middle slide of each group. 

The frame of the table, when extended, is separated at the middle, 
and if the cloth cover is not used the slides are exposed to view. This 
interrupted frame is unsightly, and each leaf may be provided with 
its section of frame, so that when in place no gap is left between the 
extended ends. There are card tables made so two of the legs and 
one side can be pulled out to support a leaf when it is open. They 
are small extension tables, the frame itself forming a part of the 


Plat. VI. 


SLIDE. Cl.05[D 


3t£TP«rl TWR006H E=Z: 

Top °f DRAW TABU f 


rami ran »r extem5i°m tabic 



MY THROUGH rail "A* T» 
H°LD I°P IN aACti 







u I 



2 " 





Chairs, Seats, Sofas. 

I" 1 HE parts of a chair are the legs, the seat frame, the hack, and 
the amis. Plate XI. 

The seat frame, and in most instances all the rails, are doweled to 
the legs and back posts. The seat frame is stiffened by corner blocks 
screwed securely to the inner side. If these blocks are wide and 
well fastened, they add very materially to the strength of the chair. 
The upholstery blocks mentioned on page 31 also stiffen the framing. 
The conditions given the designer usually determine the use of the 
chair and how much of it is to be upholstered. With this informa- 
tion given, he is free to make the rest as he likes, and he decides 
upon the form and proportion of the chair as a whole without respect 
to detail. This may be studied in plan and elevation at a convenient 
scale, or perhaps in perspective, if the idea is sufficiently clear in the 
mind to do so. It is, however, only by means of the projection 
drawings that the true forms of the different parts may be known, 
and even though the sketch is made at once without their aid a 
knowledge of what they are like is necessary. Chairs, when drawn 
in side elevation, assume one of the five elementary forms shown on 
Plate VII., where attention is called to the relation of the supporting 
members to a vertical line. These outlines are drawn from actual 
examples, and are at the same scale for purposes of comparison. 

The front elevation will appear like one of the three types shown 
on this plate. The one on the right, if drawn in side elevation, would 
have a straight back and straight legs ; the one on the left would 
have the side elevation, like one of the first three illustrated ; the one 
in the middle would appear in side elevation much the same as it 
does in the front, i. e., all legs and the back inclined. It is a drawing 
of a Windsor chair, with a solid wood seat, sometimes called the 
saddle seat, because of its shape. The legs and back posts are 
fastened in this seat by inserting the full size of the turning in holes 


bored for them, and the seat frame is omitted; but the legs are tied 
together by stretchers. 

Italian and German chairs, with backs and legs of solid boards 
elaborately carved, appear in the same inclined form when drawn in 
elevation. The "scissor" pattern was originally a folding chair, but 
although the form is retained it is not always made to fold, though 
both folding and fixed chairs present a similar elevation. The plan 
of a chair seat approximates a square, a triangle, or a circle. The 
principal varieties, with the position of the legs in relation to the 
frame indicated by the shading, are shown on Plate VIII. The 
square plan, though not uncommon, is less frequently seen than the 
trapezoidal. This latter is perhaps the most used, either with the 
straight frame, as on the left of the dotted line in the illustration, or 
curved, as on the right. Triangular seats, though used in olden 
times, are not common now, except for corner seats. 

The circular and composite plans are constantly employed. The 
composite form, made up of curves and marked "French," is the 
plan of the Louis XV. arm-chair, given as an example of rendering 
(Plate XXV.), and the plan on the right marked "Windsor" is that 
of a Windsor chair, similar to the "inclined form" (Plate VII.). 

The outline of nearly all chair backs is either rectangular or 
trapezoidal (Plate IX.). If of the first, the back posts are perpen- 
dicular to the floor line, and the legs are the same distance apart at 
the floor as at the seat level. 

If of the second form, the back posts are inclined to the floor line 
so that the legs are nearer together at the floor than at the seat level, 
and the back of the chair is proportionately wider at the top than it is 
at the seat. Though a chair may have a more complex and elaborate 
back than any of those taken as examples for illustration, an analysis 
of the outline will result in finding that it is based on one of these 
figures. The other four shapes illustrated are not as frequently used 
as the first two. This is particularly true of the polygonal and semi- 
circular patterns. 

Both of these are taken from French examples. The elliptical 
back is also a favorite form for French chairs. The shield-back is 
characteristic of chairs made by Hepplewhite about 1793, and called 
by many "Colonial." It is well to observe, while studying these 
outlines, a constructive principle common to all of them. Whatever 
the outline of the back it is made up of two vertical posts extending 
from the floor to a horizontal rail connecting them at the top ; at the 




3H0WU1G P»5ITI0N of LEGS. 






| .^npn.n T . ff ii)afnjriV. 



Plate IX. 









s / 


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Plate X. 










a ft ft ft » 


*F°UR BAtlO 








seat level is a horizontal rail (seat frame) ; and in some instances 
there is another horizontal rail at a greater or less distance above 
the seat. 

The student is to notice especially that the uprights (the back 
legs) are of one piece from the floor to the top rail of the back. 
This is often forgotten by beginners in chair designing, and weak, 
almost impossible shapes are given to the back as a result. The 
elliptical and shield-backs, though at first glance violating this rule, 
are really composed of the parts as mentioned above. A larger 
drawing of the shield-back is given on Plate XVII., showing by the 
dotted lines the prolongation of the lower part of the leg ; and the 
joints where the top and bottom rails of the shield meet the uprights 
are also indicated. Another chair back is also shown on the plate 
illustrating the same principle. There is but one exception to the 
above method of construction, and that is, when a solid wood seat is 
used ; similar to the saddle seated Windsor ; the German Stuhle, with 
turned legs ; and the Italian Scabelum, with its solid board supports. 
In this case the legs and the backs are separate. Each leg is inserted 
in holes for the purpose in the board seat. 

Having determined on the outline of a chair back it is necessary 
to study its composition, that is, to decide how the space within the 
outline is to be treated. This question is sometimes decided before 
the design is begun, as, for instance, when it is panelled, or uphol- 
stered. If, however, it is to be of some other pattern, study is neces- 
sary. Aside from the methods just mentioned, the back may be 
filled with slats arranged in one of the four ways shown on Plate X. 

A single broad slat ("splat") may be placed in the middle of the 
back between the top and the seat rail, or it may stop on a horizontal 
rail just above the seat. Such a slat can be treated as desired either 
with figured veneers, inlay, painting, carving, perforations, etc. A 
back composed of a number of vertical turned or half turned slats 
filling the space has been called a "banister back." But the slats are 
not always turned, they are sometimes flat, moulded, perforated, in- 
laid or carved. They are sometimes placed horizontally and bowed, 
Ihe concave side toward the seat. The curvature increases as the 
slats approach the top ; so, though the lower slat may be nearly 
straight, the top one is hollowed considerably to receive the shoul- 
ders of a person sitting in the chair. This gradual change in the 
curvature of the slats is sometimes substituted for the sloping of the 
back posts. 


Chairs made with turned posts and having horizontal slats in the 
back were named by die number of slats. As, three backed, or four 
backed chairs; that is, three or four horizontal slats. Five backed 
chairs were quite uncommon. 

It is perhaps almost unnecessary to say that both horizontal and 
vertical slats may be used in the same back. There is an endless 
variety of ways in which these slats and balusters may be grouped, 
spaced, and proportioned to fill the space well. Whether the slats 
or the spaces shall be the broadest? What is the best outline for the 
balusters? Are the kind of questions the designer is to ask himself, 
striving always to obtain the beautiful rather than the eccentric and 
curious forms. 

The outline of the top rail of the "rectangular" and "trapezoidal" 
backs has its influence on the appearance of the chair, and it may be 
more or less ornamented. Four forms are shown on Plate X. which 
explain themselves. 

In Plate VIII. are shown five plans of arm chairs. One of these 
has the arm straight, following the plan of the seat. Two of the 
others indicate how the space between the amis is made wider than 
the seat at the back by curving the arm ; the front post remaining in 
the same position as in the first plan. The plans drawn beneath the 
chair with the "receding arm post" show how the arm may be a 
compound curve or a continuation of the curve of the back. In the 
former not only does the curve give a maximum width between the 
arms, but it also permits of the front scroll of the arm turning out, 
thus preventing the chair from seeming narrow. 

In some chairs the plan of the arm follows the curve of the back 
so there is no angle where the two join. This is illustrated in the 
plan of a "Windsor" chair, where the piece from which the arm is 
cut is continuous from one side of the chair to the other, the slats of 
the back passing directly through it. 

Chair arms may be horizontal or they may slope to a greater or 
less degree with the highest point where they join the back. 
Stretchers are used to strengthen the chair. The legs when braced 
by them are more firm and less likely to loosen at the seat frame 
joint. Plate VIII. gives the plans of three arrangements of stretchers. 
When placed high enough to be out of the way of the feet of a person 
using the chair the stretcher may form a trapezoid parallel to the 
seat frame ; or if the chair seat is high and a foot rest is desired the 
stretcher may be arranged this way and set low for the purpose. In 


olden times European chairs were always made high and with a foot 
rest, that a person might keep his feet off of the cold floors. Now 
that it is not necessary to keep the feet away from the floor, it is not 
customary to allow them to touch the stretchers of chairs. These 
are, therefore, arranged diagonally between the legs of the chair ; 
or, the front and back legs are joined together by rails, while a third 
unites the two side rails. This third rail may be set in any position, 
but frequently it is a little nearer the front than the back. 

One of the most difficult tasks the furniture draughtsman has is 
to design and lay out for the shop die drawing of a chair that will be 
satisfactory. No drawing is more deceptive than the full size for a 
chair, and it is by experience only that a draughtsman can judge 
what will result from the working drawing. Most draughtsmen of 
considerable experience, when working out a detail, endeavor to 
have before them a chair somewhat similar to the one they are 

A good chair should first of all be comfortable to sit in. If in- 
tended for general service it ought not to be too heavy to move about 
easily, and it should be well proportioned. 

In planning the seat determine its height above the floor, its width 
at the front, its width at the back, and the depth from front to back. 
These vary as desired, and what will make a satisfactory chair for 
one person, may be quite unsuited to another ; consequently there are 
all sorts and sizes of chairs. It is, however, desirable to have a starting 
point from which to reckon, and experience has fixed a chair seat 
eighteen inches above the floor as proper, no conditions being given. 
If it is less than this it is considered low, and if more it is high. The 
purpose for which a chair is to be used also serves as a guide for di- 
mensions. If intended for use at a writing table eighteen inches will 
be satisfactory ; if for a dining chair eighteen and a half, or nineteen 
inches is not too high. Occasionally as high as twenty inches may 
be used. When the chair is not to be used at a table, seventeen and a 
half, or seventeen inches high is satisfactory for most purposes. 

In making the drawing from which a chair is to be constructed 
care must be taken to determine whether it is to have castors or not. 
If it is to have them the leg must be shortened accordingly, for the 
average castor is one and five eighths inches high from the floor to 
the top of the plate screwed to the under side of the chair leg. 

The depth of the seat, that is, the distance from the front to the 
back, is varied with the height. It is not entirely a matter of appear- 


ancc, though within limits it may be made to please the eye. Gener- 
ally, the lower the seat, the deeper it should be. If the chair seat is 
high, and too deep, the feet of the occupant will not rest on the floor, 
if he sits back in the chair. Such a chair is uncomfortable, and any 
one using it either sits on the front edge, perhaps tilting the chair 
forward on the front legs, or uses a foot stool. Either there is no 
support for the back or none for the feet when such a chair is used. 

A chair that is too low, and shallow in the seat, obliges the occu- 
pant to stretch his legs out in front or he becomes cramped against 
the back of the chair so that almost unconsciously he tips it back- 
wards. Many have tried to devise a rule by which the correct pro- 
portion between height and depth of seat can be determined, but 
thus far none seems to suit all conditions. Approximately, the sum 
of the depth of the seat plus its height is equal to thirty-five inches. 

Chairs for use at a table may be from fifteen to eighteen inches 
deep, comfortable, upholstered chairs, twenty inches deep; large, 
low, upholstered chairs may be twenty-four inches deep inside meas- 
urement. The width of the seat, from side to side, may be any size 
called for by die character of the design, except in the case of an arm 
chair, when it must not be too narrow. 

Arm chairs are necessarily wider than others, in order that there 
may be room between the arms for a person to sit easily without 
feeling crowded. The space between the arms should not be less 
than twenty inches at the front edge of the seat, nor less than eigh- 
teen at the back. The arm ought also to be of such a height, slope, 
and length that it will form a convenient rest for the hand and fore- 
arm, as well as a side support for the body. Here again arises the 
conditions of the use of the chair; for, if it is to be used at a table 
the arm ought not to project forward in a way to prevent placing the 
chair as close to the table as desirable for comfort. For such chairs 
the arm post, that is the upright from the seat supporting the arm, 
if a continuation of the front leg, is curved backward sufficiently to 
keep the scroll of the arm back of, or on a line with, the front edge 
of the chair seat. 

The arm post may, however, not be a part of the front post, but 
entirely independent. Then, it also recedes that the scroll of the arm 
may be kept well away from the front of the chair. Plate VIII. This 
arrangement has the advantage of leaving the front of the seat free 
from obstructions that too closely confine the sitter. 

Arm posts on the front edge of the seat interfere with ladies' 



dresses, and in many of the French chairs the arm posts not only re- 
cede, but curve outward at the same time, thus giving considerable 
more freedom for the person and the clothing. 

It is customary to make the width of the seat at the back a trifle 
less than at the front, in order to avoid the optical illusion of its ap- 
pearing wider at the back than at the front, as is sometimes the case 
when the sides are parallel. This difference in width is about two 
or three inches. 

Hepplewhite gives as the general dimensions of a chair: width in 
front 20 inches, depth of seat 17 inches, height of seat frame 17 
inches (his chair seats are about 1-2 or 1 inch above the frame) ; 
total height 3 feet 1 inch. The height of a chair back is a matter of 
design, and it may be proportioned accordingly. It may, or may not, 
be inclined to the seat ; its side posts may be slightly inclined, while 
the middle slopes considerably, thus providing a hollow in which the 
shoulders of the sitter rest comfortably. Modern chairs usually have 
the back inclined, though chairs for use in the entrance hall and 
dining-room are, perhaps, made with the back vertical. 

The amount of slope given the back depends on the use to which 
the chair is put. An easy chair reclines the most, and just as a low 
chair is deeper in the seat than a high chair, so, too. may the back 
slope more on a low seat chair than on a high one. A chair with 
arms may also have a back more inclined than one without. 

The appearance of stability is largely influenced by the inclination 
of the back. So much so, that it is found desirable in most chairs to 
slope the back legs outwards a little to counteract the apparent ten- 
dency of the chair to upset. An arbitrary rule is: the slope of the 
back for a chair without arms should not be more than one-fourth 
the depth of the seat and chairs with arms not more than one half. 

The legs and rails of chairs should appear linn enough to sup- 
port, not alone the chair, but the person that sits in it. For chairs 
with straight legs, whether turned or square in section, the matter of 
strength is one of size only. The bandy leg, however, requires more 
care that the curve may not be too great. Rococo work defies the 
laws of wood structure, yet it may be properly made so as, in a meas- 
ure, to reconcile the critic to its eccentricity. In describing the 
rococo table leg (page 14) it was told how to overcome the ap- 
parent, as well as actual, weakness of this form of support, and what 
was said then will apply as well to chair legs. 

Many chairs are more or less upholstered. It may be the seat 


only that is thus treated, or the entire woodwork, except perhaps the 
legs, may be hidden by a covering of upholsterer's work. 

The simplest methods of upholstering seats are the two padded 
varieties in which no springs are used. No. i, Plate XL, shows a 
cheap way when a hard seat is not objectionable, and it is desir- 
able that there should be a little elasticity. In the illustration the pad- 
ding is fastened directly to the frame of the seat so when complete it 
appears the same as an upholstered, spring seat. In some instances 
the padding is fastened to a separate, loose frame resting in a re- 
bate of the seat frame, and if the chair is turned bottom up the seat 
will fall out. Such is the way Chippendale and Hepplewhite chairs 
are often made. 

The foundation for the padded seat is webbing stretched as tightly 
as possible across the frame, front to back, and side to side. The 
widths interlace, over and under, each other so as to make a firm 
plaited mat covering the frame. On top of this a piece of burlap is 
stretched and tacked all around the edge of the frame. On the burlap 
is spread sufficient curled hair to make the requisite padding of the 
seat, and this is held in place by a piece of muslin, or cotton flannel, 
drawn tightly over it and tacked to the side of the frame. The web- 
bing and burlaps are tacked to the upper edge. The seat is now 
ready for any cover that may be chosen, and when at hand the up- 
holsterer spreads it over the muslin cover and tacks it to the frame. 
The tack heads are afterwards covered by a gimp, which is usually 
glued on, even though nails are afterwards driven in to apparently 
secure it. The seat just described is the simplest, as well as the 
cheapest form of upholstery permissible in good work. It has the 
disadvantage of being hard, and in a short time the webbing becomes 
stretched so the seat sags in the middle. 

A better seat, requiring a little more work, is shown in No. 2, 
Plate XI. It differs from No. i only in the amount of hair and the 
way it is used. As there is more hair than in the first instance, the 
seat frame is made lower that the extra quantity of hair may not 
raise the seat too high. 

The hair is placed on the webbing foundation and covered with 
burlaps. The edges are then stitched by passing a needle in at the 
side, out at the top, and then back again to the side, and so forth, 
until the entire edge of the seat has been sewed in this way. When 
the edge becomes quite hard and firm with the amount of hair that 
has been stitched in it the middle of the seat is also sewed through 

Pun. XI. 


c\iuk ccytn 
metm wtR. 





JUT w r/irrEnino 





and through until it is a trifle lower than the edges. This makes a 
firm, somewhat hard, hair cushion with its edge a little higher than 
the rest. The hollow is then well filled with hair, and over this the 
muslin, and finally the cover is drawn. Such a seat has all the ap- 
pearance of one upholstered with springs, and is comfortable enough 
where something firm is wanted. 

No. 3 illustrates the spring seat. It differs from No. 2 in this re- 
spect: the webbing is fastened to the underside of the seat frame, in- 
stead of the top, and on it are placed the springs. Over them is 
stitched a burlap on which the hair or stuffing is placed. The re- 
mainder of the work is the same as for padded seat No. 2. The edge 
is stitched, hair is added, the muslin is drawn over, and finally the 

If it is desirable to make the seat so that none of the woodwork 
shall show, no difference occurs until the cover is put on, when in- 
stead of fastening it, as illustrated, just above the lower edge of the 
frame, it is brought down over the frame and tacked to the under 
side. In such work cotton wadding is placed between the frame and 
the cover that the wood may not be felt, if the hand is in contact with 
the lower part of the seat. 

Chair seats that are upholstered have a block of wood notched 
around the corner post on the inner side, and fastened to the top 
of the seat frame, where it joins the back. This is the "upholstery 
block," and is needed by the upholsterer to tack the cover on where 
it fits around the back post. The upper surface of this block is about 
one-half inch below the level of the finished seat. 

Chair backs may be upholstered in a manner similar to seats, and 
the methods are the same. The term "over-stuffed pieces" is ap- 
plied to furniture that is upholstered so that none of the framework, 
except the legs, is visible. No. 4, Plate XI., illustrates an arm chair 
of this description, showing the framework and the method of cover- 
ing it. The frame is of hardwood, and is constructed the same as 
any other chair. The seat frame is set low in order that there may 
be plenty of room for large springs, making the seat soft and easy. 

Beneath the upper rail of the arm, and also of the back is a second 
rail left loose that it may be fastened where desired by the uphol- 
sterer. These rails are used by him for fastening the lower edges 
of the arm and back covers, which are put on after the seat is 

The seat frame of overstuffed pieces should be so constructed that 


the webbing may be tacked to it at a point not more than eleven 
inches below the level of the top of the springs, if springs of usual 
dimensions are used. It may be less, if desired, for then smaller 
springs can be used, or large springs may be tied down. The top of 
the seat is about two and a half inches above the top of the springs. 
Sometimes the seat frame is very deep, and were the webbing tacked 
to its lower edge the springs would be much below the level re- 
quired. In such instances either a strip of wood is fastened all 
around the inside of the frame to which the webbing may be tacked 
or else an extra loose frame is covered by webbing and set inside the 
seat frame at the proper level. 

The upper edge of the seat frame is usually about halfway between 
the level of the webbing and top of the springs. The method of up- 
holstering the seat and back when springs are used, is the same as 
described above for No. 3. In the work on the back, however, there 
will be noticed on the illustration a portion marked "roll." This is 
made of hair stitched in burlap to make a firm edge, all around the 
back frame, possessing elasticity enough not to feel hard when 
leaned against. Over this the covers are drawn. 

In good work the upholsterer carefully covers all edges of the 
wood with hair stitched in burlap and all flat surfaces with cotton 
batting, so that at no point is the wood beneath easily detected by 
the touch. 

Overstuffed pieces do not admit of a great variety of good forms. 
There are no ends of patterns, or designs, in which an attempt has 
been made to produce something new and good; but most of them 
are unsatisfactory. 

The beauty of this class of work is dependent on the absence of 
fussy, unnecessary trimmings, and on the outline. This outline 
ought to be one that seems the natural result of using upholsterers' 
materials, and the simplest best fills this requirement. Upholstery 
may be either plain or tufted, and the choice is at times a matter of 
taste, but frequently tufting is a constructive necessity. When the 
seat level is high above the frame tufting of the front edge prevents, 
to a degree, the sagging of the covering when the chair is occupied 
and the springs compressed. A border formed by a line of stitching 
along the front about half the height of the seat sometimes serves 
the same purpose. These methods also prevent the cover from ap- 
pearing too large after the piece has been used awhile and the stuf- 
fing is matted down. It is also advisable to tuft the seat and back of 


very large pieces for the same reason ; or, as a decorative feature if 
the covering material is plain, unfigured goods. The tufting should 
always be proportioned to the size of the article. Where the surface 
to be upholstered is concave tufting is necessary, otherwise the ma- 
terial can not readily be made to follow the curve. The ordinary 
form of tufting is to sew the goods in at the four corners of a dia- 
mond, but occasionally for concave surfaces it becomes more like a 
series of rolls side by side, and the full length of the hollow. 

The material used as a cover for over stuffed pieces largely affects 
their appearance ; goods that would be well suited to one chair may 
not look right on another. The color is governed by the decora- 
tions of the room in which the furniture is placed. It need not, per- 
haps should not, be the same color as the walls since contrast is de- 
sirable, but it must be in harmony with the surroundings. The pat- 
tern of the goods may be of a historic style similar to the design of 
the room, though it does not seem necessary to confine oneself too 
closely, for in many instances the figure of the goods is entirely lost 
in the tufting, and a color effect is all that impresses itself on the 
mind. This is largely true also of pieces without tufting. 

It is well to avoid patterns too pronounced in form or out of scale 
with the article covered. Then, too, it is not desirable to use de- 
signs composed of objects that a person would not care to sit on, as 
shells, sharp tesellated forms, musical instruments, buildings, land- 
scapes, etc. The suitable materials are those woven with an "all 
over" ornament of a size adapted to the intended use, and treated in 
a flat way without imitating modelling in relief. 

Over stuffed articles have no woodwork, except the legs, show- 
ing and they sometimes seem too light for the mass above, though 
really they may be more than strong enough. If fringe is hung 
from the lower edge of the upholstery to the floor the feet are hidden 
and the general mass is apparently resting on the floor, the fringe 
serving to carry the color and lines to that level. The length of the 
fringe may be about one-half the height of the seat. The best taste 
admits of only simple fringes free from small drapings, "skirts," or 
elaborate nettings that soon become dirty and shabby. When the 
supports of the furniture are sufficiently heavy to suggest no thought 
of weakness, and there is a frame to show wood below the uphol- 
stery no fringe is required. 

The rush seat chair is not in common use, as it was a number of 
years ago, yet occasionally it is wanted. The frame for such a seat 



is shallow, not more than an inch and a quarter, and has all its edges 
rounded. Sometimes the frame is nothing moie than turned sticks 
over which the rushes are twisted and woven into a seat entirely 
covering them. 

The cane seat requires a flat frame usually above the seat frame, 
though it may replace it. On the inner edge of this frame holes are 
bored through which the cane is drawn and stretched across the 
opening until a seat is formed. 

The sofa is practically an extremely wide chair, and the data given 
for chairs may be applied to it. 

The following is a table of dimensions of various chairs taken 
from satisfactory examples : 


Variety. Height. 

Bedroom chair 18 

Baby's high chair 1 20 

Cheek chair 2 17 

"Chip" chair 17 

" 18 

Dining chair 20 


" 19 

" 18 

Easy chair 17 

Easy chair 2 17 

"Hepplewhite" chair 18 

Parlor chair 3 16% 

Parlor chair 2 14 

Parlor chair 2 18 

Parlor chair* „ 18 

Piano bench 20 

Reception chair' 1 17 

Rocking chair 16 

"Roundabout" chair 18 

"Rubens" chair 20% 

"Slipper" chair 12 

1 Foot rest 12 ins. above floor; 
and back: 5 upholstered seat. 
*Depth inside. 









Front. Back. 












13' i 















17' 4 


























































































2 overstuffed: 

3 French cane 

S( at and 


4 wood arm 



Seat. Depth. Height. 

—Width— Out- —Back— from 

Variety. Height. Front. Back. side. Height. Slope. floor. 

Small 18 43 40 21 32% 3 24 

Extra large 16 78 76 36 29 2 25 

Ordinary sofa 15 54 51 24 34 5I0 24 

Lounge 17 68 68 28 35 2% 29 

" 17 57 57 29 23 12 34 

Note.— All dimensions are given in inches. Heights are above the floor Slope of back 
is measured, at seat level, to a perpendicular through highest point of the back. 


Casework, Panelling, Bedstead's. 

THE beauty of casework is dependent on : Firstly, its propor- 
tion as a whole. That is whether the height, the width, and 
the depth are of dimensions that appear well together. In most prob- 
lems at least one of these dimensions is fixed by some requirement 
of utility. The designer is then expected to decide the other two. 

Secondly, the disposition of the parts (i. e. panels, framing, archi- 
tectural members, such as columns, mouldings, etc.), of which the 
case is composed has its influence on the design. Whether the panels 
are large, or small ; whether they are arranged in pairs, or grouped 
in another way ; whether the mouldings are heavy or light, etc., are 
the questions studied. 

Thirdly, the ornamentation. This is the last point to be consid- 
ered, because if the general form is bad no amount of decoration, 
whatever its quality, will make a good piece of furniture. As the 
subject of the ornamentation of furniture is treated as a separate 
chapter (VI.) it need not be discussed further here. 

In front elevation casework usually approaches more or less the 
form of a rectangle and the first condition in its design is to find a 
method for determining the ratio of the sides of a rectangle most 
agreeable to the eye. This has already been studied by several writers 
with at least two solutions. 

One assumes a square as the starting point and implies that any 
rectangle having two sides equal to the sides of the square will be 
well proportioned if the other two sides are not more than twice its 
length. In other words, a well-formed rectangle is not more than 
two squares long. Plate XII. 

Another ratio given is that of two to three. Assuming that if the 
width of the rectangle is two, the length should be three. This ratio, 
of course, is included within the limits of the first method. 

For the purposes of designing it may be assumed that the rectan- 


gle, whether vertical or horizontal, represents the principal mass of 
the case; what is technically known as the body. To this may be 
added at the top the crowning members, and at the bottom the base 
on which the whole is supported. To the sides may be added the 
projections of mouldings, columns, brackets, or other decorative 

The relation of the various parts to each other and to the whole 
should be kept in mind. Often casework consists of an upper and 
lower section. The lower part must not only be sufficiently strong to 
support what is above it, but it ought to appear so without seeming 
heavier than is necessary. The base or feet should be proportioned 
to the mass above and the crown members, well supported, are to 
be made large enough to serve as a finish for the case without 
apparently crushing it. 

The spacing and arranging of the principal lines dividing the case 
into panels, drawers, etc., is to be such as will give pleasing results, 
and there are an infinite number of arrangements possible. The 
whole mass may be divided into two equal parts by a post the same 
size as one on each corner of the cabinet, No. 3, Plate XII. This 
sort of a division has the disadvantage of causing the case to appear 
as if it were made of two smaller ones placed together, and as if the 
two parts were balanced on the middle line. It is not considered the 
best way of doing. 

A similar composition is one in which the case is divided into three 
parts with the middle one the smallest. This has the faults of the 
former method, though not in such a marked degree. When three 
divisions are made the best appearance is obtained by making the 
middle one larger than those each side of it. No. 6, Plate XII. 
Other arrangements are also shown on the same plate. 

As was mentioned above, furniture should be adapted to its use, 
and if possible its design should indicate the use. The location of 
an article in a room has its effect on the appearance. So much so, 
that if possible the designer should study the surroundings. He is 
then in a position to make a design that will harmonize with the 
decoration of the room, and an article of a size best suited to the 
space it will occupy. He can also see how much light will fall on it 
and be governed somewhat by this in determining the size of the 
mouldings, etc. If the room is well lighted a moulded member if 
fine and delicate will show to advantage, but in a dark corner larger 
moulding will be more suitable. 




Plate ffl. 


s 1 

• 1 


\\ \ 










As casework pieces are usually the largest in the room they are 
quite prominent, no matter how simple they may be, and care must 
be taken not to make their presence obtrusive by over ornamentation. 
The decoration used should be appropriate, sparingly applied, and 
of the highest quality of execution. Casework approaches nearer to 
architectural designing than any other furniture draughting. In 
nearly every article mouldings are used that are identical with those 
of architecture. They are combined in the same way and their use 
is for much the same purpose. There are eight forms from which 
nearly all others are derived by combination or variation and their 
names are of importance as serving a means for description. 

Plate XIV. illustrates these mouldings as follows: 

The fillet is a narrow, flat surface, usually above or below another 
moulding, and it may be either a projecting or receding member. 
When below the surrounding surface it is a sunk fillet. 

The bead is a small, half-round moulding either projecting from 
or even with the surrounding surface. In the latter case there is a 
narrow grove at one side, and it is called a quirked bead. 

The cavetto is a hollow moulding, the outline of which does not 
exceed a quarter circle ; and the ovolo is the reverse of the cavetto ; 
that is, a projecting member of which the outline is a segment not 
exceeding a quarter. The cavetta and ovolo are not always circular 
in outline. Any curve may be employed, but the circular or elliptical 
forms are most common. 

The cyma recta, or ogee, has a profile composed of two arcs, hol- 
low and convex, like a wave, the hollow at the top. The crown 
member of cornices is often made with this moulding. 

The cyma reversa, as its name indicates, is the reverse of the 
ogee ; the convex curve is at the top and the concave below. 

The scotia is a concave moulding with the outline a segment of a 
circle often greater than a semi-circle. It is sometimes called a 
thumb moulding, and the hollow section is then composed of two 
tangent arcs of different radii. 

A torus is a large convex moulding usually with a semi-circular 
profile. When any of these mouldings are used beneath a horizontal 
surface forming an angle with a vertical one it is called a bed mould. 

Later we will see that mouldings used to hold panels in place are 
sometimes partly above the surrounding rails. They are then called 
raised mouldings to distinguish them from flush mouldings which 
are level with the rail. Mouldings serve various practical purposes 



but their aesthetic effect is to be thought of. They produce much the 
same result, when used as a frame, that a line border does about a 
drawing. The effect of light and shade on a moulding is to produce 
a series of lines that vary indefinitely, according to the proportions 
of the moulding and its parts. A deep undercut moulding gives a 
heavy dark shadow, a black line ; and a narrow flat moulding a light 
shadow ; a fine line. 



; --V_.^s 



.--' s 

Effect of touldiiigs. 

The position of the moulding in relation to the eye may also appar- 
ently increase or diminish its members. If it is placed above or be- 
low the eye so the moulding ascends or descends, respectively, and 
recedes from the eye the member will diminish in size, appearing 
thinner than it is. On the other hand, if the moulding descends or 
ascends respectively the member will appear thicker than it really is. 

When a moulded member is composed of two or more of the sim- 
ple forms described above, it owes its charm somewhat to the intro- 
duction of a fillet which, separates each moulding from that adjoin- 
ing. An important combination of mouldings is their use in the 
crown members of cabinets. We have already called attention to 
having this proportioned to the size of the body below ; in addition, 
it should not project too much. If its overhang is not greater than 
its depth it will usually look well, but in many instances it will be 
found desirable to keep somewhat within this limit. 

Mouldings may be ornamented by carving and when so treated 


Plate Xffl. 




^rwn. of ajmw 

*V COM Of&ASt. 



care must be taken to preserve their general form. It is usual on 
architectural members to employ the profile of the moulding as the 
leading line of the ornaments upon it. Thus, the fillet may be dec- 
orated by vertical lines as flutes, fret, or dentils ; the bead, by 
"pearls," bead and spindle; the torus by the guilloche ; the ovolo, by 
an egg and dart ; and the cymas, by the heart ornament, etc. 

Cases are composed of a top, a bottom, and uprights between 
which are panels of wood or glass. Plate XIII shows a section of a 
cabinet with the parts separated so as to illustrate how it is con- 
structed. The column forming the corner post is doweled to the 
base and cornice. The sides and back are paneled and are either 
doweled or rebated to the other parts. The bottom and top is com- 









posed of a frame surrounding a panel. In order to build all parts 
together use is made of several kinds of joints. Though these are not 
always shown on the drawings it is desirable that the draughtsman 
be familiar with them. They may be arranged in three groups, 
comprising those commonly used in furniture construction ; the butt, 
the angle, and the framing joint. 


The butt-joint is employed when two pieces of wood are jointed to- 
gether in the same plane. The simplest form is when the edges of 
the two pieces are brought together and held by glue, no other con- 
necting medium being used. This is often sufficient, and when prop- 
erly made is quite strong. It is almost invisible in the majority of 
woods when made so the grain is parallel with the line of contact. 

When a stronger method is required, and one side of the pieces 
joined is hidden from view, blocks are glued across the joint, on the 
unexposed surface, so as to stiffen it. The grain of these blocks 
must be parallel with that of the jointed pieces that shrinkage may 
not loosen, or cause them to crack. 

Another way of uniting the edges of two boards is by the tongue 
and groove. A tongue, or projecting piece, along the middle of the 
edge of one piece is matched to a groove in the edge of the other. 
Sometimes in place of this, a groove is cut in the edge of each of the 
boards throughout their entire length. Into these grooves is then 
glued a hardwood strip, called the tongue or slip-feather, uniting the 
two pieces. 

The most popular joint with the cabinetmaker is the dowel-joint. 
It is perhaps the best where the wood is of sufficient thickness to 
permit its use. A dowel is a wooden pin used for fastening two 
pieces of wood together by inserting part of its length into one 
piece, the rest entering a corresponding hole in the other. Some- 
times a number of dowels are fitted tightly into holes bored for them 
in one of the pieces to be joined, and the other has corresponding 
holes bored in it, in which the dowels also fit tightly when the two 
pieces are glued together. 

Angle joints are frequently mitred; that is, the joined edges are 
cut at a bevel bisecting the angle between them when united. The 
union is made by butting the pieces and gluing them together. As 
this does not make a strong joint in itself, it is stiffened in various 
ways. One method is to drive small bits of corrugated metal in the 
ends of the pieces and across the joint, thus binding the parts 
together. At other times corner blocks are glued on the inner side 
of the mitred angle. 

For rounded corners, or when a mitred angle is not wanted, the 
two pieces may be tongued and grooved together. The tongue is 
on the inner edge of one of the pieces, so that as much wood as 
possible is retained outside the groove on the other. The best and 
strongest method of joining two pieces at an angle is by dovetailing. 


When the joint is made so the full thickness of each piece joined is 
visible and the shape of each dovetail can be seen, the joint is a plain 
dovetail. The lapped dovetail is constructed so the joint is seen at the 
side only, and is commonly used for fastening the sides and front of 
drawers together. When it is desirable to have all indications of the 
dovetailing hidden, a combination of the mitre and dovetail is used, 
in which the dovetails are cut in part of the thickness of the wood 
and the mitre in the remainder. Such a joint is a mitred dovetail. 

The usual framing joints used by furniture makers are the dowel- 
joint and the mortise and tenon. (See also page 17.) 

The true mortise (cavity) is cut near the end of one piece to 
receive the tongue (tenon) of the other. The tenon is not always 
the full width of the piece on which it is cut, but often is narrower. 

When framing for a series of panels, a groove is sunk the 
whole length of two of the framing pieces (those extending hori- 
zontally, called rails), and those at right angles to them (vertical 
pieces between the panels, the stiles) have tenons cut on them which 
fit in the grooves. These grooves also receive the panels. This 
method avoids cutting a mortise for each tenon, and the name given 
to the joint is stub-tenon. 

When two pieces are joined by cutting away half the thickness of 
each and then lapping them together, they are said to be halved. 
Such a joint is sometimes combined with a mitre, so that where 
exposed to view it appears like any mitred joint. It is then said to 
be halved-mitred. 

Broad surfaces of casework are panelled partially as a means of 
decoration, but principally for constructive reasons. If the surface 
were made from a solid board, it would soon crack and warp as the 
wood became dryer. It might be built up and veneered as has been 
described for table tops (page 18), and this is occasionally done; 
but as paneling gives a change of plane with a chance for light and 
shade, it is more commonly used. 

The panels are, however, veneered and cross-veneered on both 
sides of a core whenever perfect workmanship is wanted. 

Panels are surrounded by a frame, which may be grooved to re- 
ceive them ; but a better way is to rebate the frame and hold the 
panels in by mouldings. Three ways of doing this are shown on 
Plate XIV. In the joiner's method either a groove is worked in the 
styles of the surrounding frame to hold the panel and then the 
moulding is placed in the angle against the panel, or a rebate is cut 
in which both panel and moulding are set. 


In either case, if the moulding is nailed in, the nail will probably 
be driven directly in the panel, or else diagonally through both the 
edge of the panel and rail. In the first instance any shrinkage of the 
panel causes a crack to appear between the frame and the moulding. 

To avoid this, a rebate can be cut in the moulding, when it is 
large enough to permit, so it will lap over on the frame a little and 
hide the joint. 

But here, although (see illustration) the nail holds the moulding 
close against the frame, it also catches the edge of the panel and 
prevents it moving. The result is that cracks appear in the panel 

It does not improve matters much if the moulding is glued in, for 
the glue almost always binds both moulding and panel to the frame, 
so that a rupture will occur somewhere. 

The cabinetmaker avoids these difficulties. First he cuts a rebate 
in the frame on die finish side. In this the moulding is glued solidly 
so it becomes a part of the frame itself. When the glue is dry the 
varnished panel is set in from the back and held in place by plain 
mouldings nailed to the frame. This leaves the panel loose and free 
to move should shrinkage take place. The object in varnishing the 
panel before setting it is that if any movement does occur it will not 
be seen by the exposure of a line of unfinished wood. 

Flush panels are so named because their surface is level with the 
surrounding frame. They are set in a rebate from the back and 
secured by a nailed moulding. In most cases a bead is run all around 
the edge of the panel, so as to hide the joint between it and the 
frame. Such panels are used for the back of cases and in places 
where no decorative effect is wanted. 

Panels may have the edges beveled or rebated below their sur- 
face, so as to produce a sort of border around the panel itself. Such 
panels are sometimes spoken of as raised panels, to distinguish them 
from a flat, even surface. 

The surface of a panel is made of more carefully selected wood 
than that used for mouldings and rails, with the intention of having 
a handsome grain. Veneers are chosen that have been cut from a 
portion of a log furnishing strong markings, or "figures," when 
polished, and these are sometimes cut in smaller pieces, either half or 
quarter the size of the panel, and placed together so the lines of the 
grain will form a pattern, or a "picture." At other times a design 
is inlaid on the panel or it is carved. The simplest form of carved 


Plate XIV. 














fork °r panels 

A5 A PAN El 


fRAfliriG GU\5^ ^ 


panel is that with the surface moulded to resemble, more or less, the 
folds of drapery, and called linen or parchment panels. 

By arranging the mouldings around flat panels, so as to produce 
forms with a broken outline, the stiff rectangular panel is avoided. 
Three varieties are shown on Plate XIV. 

Bookcases, china cabinets and others of the same class of case- 
work have portions of their sides glazed either with clear glass or 

In the best of glazed work plate-glass is used, but where some- 
thing less expensive is wanted the best quality of double-thick sheet 
glass is used. Anything poorer than this should not be placed in 
good work. Mirrors should always be of plate-glass. Glass set in 
doors or substituted for panel work is cut the full size of the rebate 
opening in the frame, and is held in place by a loose moulding, the 
same as a panel. Plate XIV. It is only when some special con- 
dition requires it that the glass is secured in place by putty and 
glaziers' points instead of the loose moulding. 

Mirrors are not often cut to the full size, but are a trifle smaller 
than the rebate measure, and the glass is held in place by a number 
of triangular blocks, about three inches long, placed at intervals in 
the rebate. These blocks serve to wedge the glass securely in place, 
that it may not slide in the rebate, and they also reduce to a mini- 
mum the surface of wood in contact with the coating on the back of 
the mirror. 

The silvering is protected from injury by a paneled backboard, 
screwed to the frame after the glass is fastened in. This backboard 
must not touch the mirror at any point. 

The glass is held in front by a moulding set in a rebate, as we 
have described for paneling. 

Doors are composed of a framework enclosing panels. The up- 
rights of the frame are the stiles, and the horizontal parts are the 
rails. They are hung either with hinges or pivots. The former are 
more or less visible, but the latter are concealed. Plate XV. illus- 
trates various applications of these methods. No. 1 shows the door 
hung with butts and without a rebate for the door to shut against. 
Such a door would be used in cabinets where the uninterrupted joint 
between the edge of the door and the side of the case is not objec- 
tionable. Notice also that unless the door can swing through an 
arc of 180 degrees the width of the opening is reduced by about the 
thickness of the door, or A in the illustration. In most instances a 


rebate to receive the door is desirable ; and still the door hung with 
butts would reduce the size of the opening, as at A, No. 2, unless the 
rebate is as deep as the door is thick, No. 3. 

Doors for cabinets having drawers within are hung this latter 
way, as it enables one to pull out the drawer, though the door is 
open at the right angle only. No. 4 shows how a door may be hung 
when the design calls for a pilaster on the corner of the case and 
yet the conditions require that a maximum width be given to the 
interior. An article having the door hung in this manner must stand 
sufficiently away from the wall or other pieces of furniture to permit 
the pilaster to turn on the axis of the hinge. 

?1« OR. CENTRE. 

The pivot, pin, or center hinge, is invisible, and in high-class work 
this is an advantage. It is also strong, and is screwed to the upper 
edge of the top rail and the lower edge of the bottom rail of the 
door in a position such that a strain does not start the screws. The 
illustration shows what it is like. There are two bars of metal, 
narrow enough to be entirely concealed by the thickness of the 
door. In one of these bars is a hole receiving a pin on the other bar. 
One of the bars, that with the socket, is set in the frame receiving 
the door ; the other is on the door itself, and when complete the door 
turns on the pin as an axis. 

It is well to set the pivot on a line through the middle of the thick- 
ness of the door and about half the thickness of the door, plus an 
eighth of an inch, away from the post against which the door turns; 
that is, C =B + % inch. No. 5 shows a pivoted door in a position 
where it reduces the width of the door opening, and No. 6 shows the 
pivoted edge of the door turning in a hollow prepared for it and 
provided with stops, against which the edge of the door strikes either 
when open or shut. 

The thickness of door rails is dependent entirely on the size and 
design of the door, but the bottom rail is made a little wider than 
the top rail and side stiles, which are of the same width. 


Plate XV. 




The meeting stiles of a pair of doors are sometimes rebated, so 
the joint does not extend straight through. 

Sliding doors may be provided with rollers at the bottom or the 
top, or they may slide in a groove without aids for reducing friction. 
Sliding doors are often in pairs, and then it is necessary to arrange 
that they close tightly at the meeting stiles, which overlap a little. 


[[EETITlfiJTIUlOFXIWllQ 000(13. 
There is more or less space between the doors, due to the thickness 
of a "parting strip" at the bottom and top, forming the groove in 
which the door slides. To close this space a thin strip, sufficiently 
wide to extend across it, is fastened to the back edge of each door. 
When the doors are closed these two strips are in contact and lap 
over each other. 


Desk lids may be considered as doors hung by the bottom rail, but 
they seldom open wider than an angle approximately 90 degrees, 
and the method of hinging is dependent on the way the lid is 

When ordinary butts are used, it is necessary to have slides that 
pull out beneath the lid for it to rest on, or else metal elbow pieces, 
chains or quadrants are fastened above. Otherwise the weight of a 
person's arms on the lid when it is down will break the hinges. 

Illustration No. 7, Plate XV., represents a section of a lid hung in 
this way, and No. 8 is a mediod without slides or quadrants that may 
be used for lids of cabinets where no great weight is to come on 
them and butts are used. Here the hinge is not directly on the edge 
of the lid, but is set a little beyond it, the lid and hanging stile having 
been cut on a bevel to permit the lid swinging down to the horizontal. 
A portion of the case (X), just below the lid, is also arranged so the 
lid when down will rest on it. 

The strongest lid hinge is the pivot. No. 9, Plate XV. The lid 
when down presses against Y and Z, and the hinge' itself is con- 
structed so as to take part of the strain. 


It is practically the same as the pin hinge described above. The 
part serving as a socket for the pin is, however, shaped somewhat 
like a rectangle, with a small projecting square on one side near one 
corner. The other corner of the side from which this square pro- 
jects is rounded off as a quadrant, with the socket for a center. The 
pin bar is also extended sufficiently to receive a second pin, located 
so that it just clears the edge of the quadrant when the two parts of 
the hinge are placed together, and will strike against the projecting 
piece of the socket plate. 

If now the socket plate is properly fastened to the side of the 
cabinet, the parts of the hinge are in the position shown in the illus- 
tration when the lid is turned down. The second pin of the bar 
strikes against the projection on the socket plate and acts as a stop. 
This brings the greater strain on the metal of the hinge itself. The 


location of the pivot on the edge of the stiles is such that the screws 
are not pulled out if an extra strain is put on them. As in every drop 
lid, there is more or less leverage ; there will be some spring when 
weight is applied to it. It is therefore advisable to use aids for sup- 
port — either quadrants or braces. 

The lid for small compartments of desks, or the desk lid itself, 
may be hung so as to raise and then slide back out of the way. A 
section of a lid of this kind is given in No. 10, Plate XV. The dotted 
line shows the position of the lid raised and ready to be pushed back 
into the pocket. When the lid is down, the upper edge strikes 
against the back of a moulding, so as to hide entirely the pocket 
into which it slides when raised. The hinge is on the lower edge of 
a rebate cut in the lid. This rebate matches a similar one cut in a 
strip fitted so as to slide easily in the pocket, yet provided with stops 
to prevent its being pulled out. When the lid is raised, this guide 
and the lid halve together, so as to become practically one piece. 

The cylinder top desk is made so the lid will slide back into a 
pocket, the edges of the lid moving in grooves cut in the sides of the 
desk. When the desk is small, a lid working in this way does not 
slide back sufficiently to expose a convenient writing surface. The 
difficulty is overcome by making the writing surface so it may be 
pulled out about two-thirds the depth of the desk, and the pigeon- 
holes, with the inkstand, etc., may be placed immediately above at 
the back of the desk. This arrangement makes quite a roomy writ- 
ing table of one that would otherwise be small. It is convenient to 
construct such desks so one operation will pull out the slide and 
open the lid, instead of requiring each movement to take place 

There are many ways of doing this, and the one illustrated (No. 
II, Plate XV.) is by Sheraton. A metal bar is pivoted to the edge 
of the lid near the back and it is similarly attached to the slide. This 
bar has a slot cut at the lower end, in which the pivot on the slide 
may move, and another slot near the middle, in which moves a 
pivoted guide attached to the side of the desk. This latter pivot is 
the central point about which turns the bar connecting the slide and 
lid; so when either is moved the other moves also. There are two 
of these connecting bars, one at each end of the desk. 

Shelving in cabinets and bookcases is made so as to be adjust- 
able to any heights. Sometimes they are supported by four pins, 
one at each corner of the shelf, placed in holes bored in the sides of 


the case. These holes are one inch or more apart, and by changing 
the location of the pins the shelf is adjusted. 

At other times four vertical notched strips are fastened to the ends 
of the case, two at each side, and in the notches cleats are placed 
on which the shelves rest. By shifting the cleats the shelves are 
placed as desired. 

The following is a table of dimensions taken from existing 
examples of case work: 



Bookkeepers' desk 


Cheval glass 




Note: All dimensions are in inches. 























Deck 11 ins., slope 22 






















Bedsteads have a head board, a foot board and two side rails. The 
head and foot board are often panellel, and sometimes the side rails 
also. In the old-style bedstead there were four posts. These were 
joined together in pairs by a rail above, which was a second rail 
more or less elaborately decorated by sawing, carving, turning or 
panelling, thus making the head and foot boards according to the 
position they occupied when united by two rails that formed the 
sides of the bedsteads. 

The side rails, with the lower ones of the head and foot board, 
formed the frame, across which cords were stretched to support the 
mattress. In the modern bedsteads the arrangement is much the 
same, except that in many of them the post is reduced to its lowest 
terms, and exists only as the stile for the panel work of which the 
head and foot board is composed. 

The side rails are made much wider than in olden times, that they 
may hide the box spring, which has taken the place of the cording, 
and they are constructed so they may be removed and replaced as 
desired. There are many contrivances for accomplishing this, each 
manufacturer having his preference. 



A strong and substantial way is shown in the illustration. 

The ends of the rails are provided with tenons that fit mortises in 
the posts of head and foot boards, and with screws that work in nuts 
sunk in the posts. These screws fasten the rails and end boards 
securely together, while the tenons stiffen the joint, preventing any 
twisting of the sides. 

On the lower edge of the side rails, inside, is a ledge to support 
the spring. The box spring is sometimes supported on slats and 
sometimes on the side rail of the bedstead, a cleat having been placed 
on it so as to rest on the ledge of the rails. 

The mattress is placed on the springs. In designing a bedstead 
it ought to be constructed so the top of the mattress will not be much 
over twenty-five inches above the floor. 

Bed slats are about an inch thick, a double box spring about ten 
inches thick, and a good mattress seven inches thick. 

To keep within the limit of height, then, the upper edge of the 
support for the slats should not be more than seven inches from the 
floor. But slats are sometimes omitted, and then the side rails may 
be set higher, so the springs can hang a little below them without 
being seen. 


The following is a table of measurements of bedsteads: 


Width. Height. 

< Inside. > . Height. . Side Bottom 

Variety. Lengtn. Width. Foot. Head. Rail. Side Rail. 

Single 78 42 40 62 9H 9H 

' 78 42 41 60 10 10 

Double bed 78 58H 42 63 11 loH 

" 78 56 36 67 13 9H 

Note: All dimensions are in inches. 


The Drawer. 

NEARLY every article of furniture may be provided with a 
drawer; and the ease with which it slides and its accuracy 
of fittings are tests of good workmanship. To have a wide, deep 
drawer slide so easily that the pressure of a finger placed against the 
front at one end is sufficient to move it, means careful adjustment, 
skilled labor and the best materials. 

The drawer is composed of a front, back, two sides and a bottom. 
The front is the only part visible when the drawer is closed, and 
upon its treatment depends the decorative value of the drawer. It 
may be considered as a panel surrounded by mouldings, or it may 
be left plain, depending on the hardware for its ornamentation. 

If the front is on the same plane as the surrounding surfaces of 
the case, the line of the joint about the drawer is too clearly defined. 
It is better to hide this joint by allowing the drawer to slide in a 
sixteenth of an inch beyond the face of the framework, or to place a 
bead all around the edge of the drawer. 

Sometimes the front of the drawer has its edge rebated, so that 
instead of sliding into the pocket beyond the surface of the case, it 
projects beyond, and the lip of the rebate covers the joint around the 
drawer. The sides of the drawer are dovetailed to the front, and 
the bottom is either grooved directly in the sides or in strips glued 
to them. This latter method is used when the sides are too thin for 
grooving. The full thickness of the bottom is not grooved into the 
front and sides, but its edge is reduced in thickness by beveling or 
rebating, thus permitting the bottom to be placed low without 
making the portion of the sides below the groove too thin. 

The space between the lower edge of the drawer front and the 
bottom at its thickest part is about one-eighth inch. Hence the 
interior depth of a drawer is the depth of the front minus the thick- 
ness of the bottom plus one-eighth inch. The average drawer, having 
a bottom of half an inch, would therefore have an interior depth five- 

82 THE DR4.WER. 

eighths of an inch less than it appears on the front. Wide drawers, 
like those extending the full depth of a bureau, sometimes have the 
bottom divided through the middle from front to back by a rail or 
muntin. This prevents the bottom from bending beneath the weight 
placed on it, and also decreases the tendency to warp. The bottom 
should be long enough to extend beyond the back piece. It is also 
grooved into the front where it is fastened, but it ought not to be 
secured elsewhere. This method of construction admits of the 
bottom shrinking, but as it is fastened on the front only and free to 
move elsewhere, it will not crack; and the extra length beyond the 
back prevents an opening appearing at that end. 

The back may be grooved or dovetailed in the sides. The dimen- 
sions of the different parts are dependent on the size of the drawer. 
For ordinary work the front is seldom more than seven-eighths inch 
thick, and the sides, bottom and back more than one-half inch. 

In casework the drawer slides in a pocket, and often there are 
several drawers, one above the other. When enclosed, the drawer 
slides on a supporting frame, the front rail of which is called the 
"bearer," and the side rails "runners." Close against the sides and 
supported by the runners are narrow strips of wood, that serve to 
keep the drawer in place. These are the "guides." 

Sometimes the frame between the drawers is open, and if one of 
the series is removed that beneath may be emptied by reaching 
through the opening above. In better work the frame is fitted with 
a panel, called a dust panel, that prevents this. 

The drawer is not always enclosed. Sometimes it is hung beneath 
a table top and exposed to view. When used in this way, cleats are 
fastened to the outer surface of the sides and slide in grooved pieces 
screwed to the underside of the table top. If the cleats set close to 
the upper edge of the sides of the drawer, they increase the thickness 
of this edge, which is in contact with the under surface of the table 
top. As this surface may not be true, the drawer will not work 
smoothly unless hung loosely. 

A better arrangement is the one illustrated, with the cleat set a 
little below the edge of the drawer and fitted smoothly in the grooved 
bearer. The edge of the drawer may then be set so as not to rub 
against the top of the table, and yet the drawer is held secure by the 
cleats sliding in the grooved supports. Sometimes the groove is in 
the side of the drawer and the bearer is provided with a tongue that 
fits it, reversing the method just described. 









I- J 




When it is desirable to place a drawer in a piece of furniture 
having a trianguflar plan, for instance, a corner cabinet, the 
guides at the side are useless, as the drawer does not come in con- 
tact with them except when pushed in. As soon as the drawer is 
pulled out ever so little it no longer fills the width of the pocket. 
If it is necessary to slide a drawer of this shape, a rail is placed in 
the middle of the bottom the length of the drawer from front to 
back. The underside of this rail is grooved over a tongued strip 
immediately beneath it, that serves as a guide to keep the drawer in 
the middle of the pocket. Such an arrangement is not always feas- 
ible, and then the triangular drawer is pivoted at the front edge ; so 
instead of sliding it swings out of the pocket. 

For music cabinets, library cases, etc., the use of the drawer may 
make it necessary to pull it out sufficiently that the entire length can 
be seen. A drawer constructed in the usual way would, if pulled out 
so far, fall to the floor as soon as the hand left it. A drawer is made, 
however, with slides at the sides that support it when out its full 
length. The illustration shows such a method. The side of the 
drawer is about twice as thick as ordinarily, and the lower portion 
is rebated about half its depth and thickness. In this rebate a slide 
is fitted, exactly filling it. The rear end of the slide is increased in 
width to the full depth of the drawer. When the drawer is closed 
the slide and the side of the drawer are practically one. When the 
drawer is pulled out to a fixed point the slide catches against a stop 
and does not move any further, but the drawer then moves along the 
slide until it is nearly or entirely out of the pocket, when it is stopped 
by a pin moving in a groove in the side of the slide. The drawer is 
then resting entirely on the slides, which are sufficiently far in the 
pocket to carry the weight, and the widened portion at the rear end 
of them filling the space between the runners prevents upsetting. 

When a pair of doors close against a case of drawers another 
system may be used in place of the above. The doors can be hung 
so as to open to a position in the plane of the sides of the cabinet and 
held there by stops. Their inner surface may also be provided with 
runners, on which the drawer can slide when it is pulled out beyond 
the pocket. 


Ornamentation of Furniture. 

IN addition to the general outline and proportion of furniture, its 
appearance is dependent upon ornamentation. This should not, 
however, become so important as to destroy the constructive ele- 
ments or the utility. A properly designed article may be quite as 
pleasing when entirely devoid of ornament as when its surfaces are 
covered by enrichments of some sort. 

In many instances what is termed ornament is but a roughening 
or coloring of the surface, in hopes to divert the attention from bad 
forms or poor construction. It is understood that woodwork free 
from surface ornament must be well made, the wood carefully 
selected, and care taken to use togedier pieces of the same color and 
figure of grain. The joints, unless properly made, become con- 
spicuous, exposing the poor workmanship. The finish — that is, the 
varnishing and rubbing, must be well done, that the wood may not 
appear to be covered by a candied surface full of lumps and streaks. 
Work well made and finished feels to the hand almost as soft and 
smooth as silk velvet, while to the eye the grain of the wood shows 
clear and sparkling beneath the thin, well rubbed film of varnish 
which fills the pores yet scarcely more than covers the surface. In 
such work the beauty is dependent upon pleasing outlines, good 
proportions and workmanship. The smallest details, like softening 
the angle, rounding a corner, etc., require attention, because of 
their influence on the appearance of the whole. 

There are times when it is desirable to do more than fill the 
demands of service, and additional expense may be incurred by 
enriching the simple form with decoration. 

There are several methods of doing this. Perhaps the most diffi- 
cult to do well, and yet the most common, is carving. It can be 
used as a surface ornament, treated as a panel, either cut below the 
surface of the wood, or in relief. The constructive parts, as posts, 
rails, mouldings, etc., may be also in ornamental forms. In the first 


instance — panel work — the problem is one of designing an orna- 
ment to properly fill the space, keeping in mind the effect of light 
and shade. The pattern is in relief of varying planes, and the 
different parts must be of a size that will be in keeping with the 
space filled as well as the entire article. 

The ornament may closely fill the whole space or be loosely 
scattered over the surface, but in either instance it should seem to 
belong where it is, and not as if it might be placed elsewhere or was 
floating about in a space much too large for it. 

In some kinds of furniture may be seen small ornaments in high 
relief cut from a block glued in the middle of a plain surface many 
times the length and width of the ornament. Such carving appears 
as if stuck on, even if it is well executed; for it is wrongly placed 
and inadequate to the space it occupies. It is not because it is glued 
on that makes it uninteresting, as might be supposed, but because it 
is badly designed. Had the surface of the solid wood been cut 
away to leave carving of the same design in relief, a similar feeling 
of its having been applied would exist. Nevertheless, the practice 
of gluing on carving should be discouraged. 

When the constructive parts are carved, care should be taken to 
design the ornament so the contour of the part is not destroyed. 
Instead of detracting from the form, it ought to enforce it. This 
may be accomplished by keeping the principal masses of the orna- 
ment well within the boundary lines of the part decorated and by 
making the ornamental growths follow the direction of the struc- 
tural lines. 

If the carving is on the surface of a chair back where it may be 
leaned against, it should not be of such a high relief as to be dis- 
agreeable or so sharp as to be dangerous to the clothing. 

Plain surfaces have quite as much value as those that are orna- 
mented, and by bringing them in conjunction, so as to secure a 
contrast, the best results are obtained. 

It has been mentioned in a previous chapter (page 10) that the 
wood used for the construction has an influence on the design. This 
is especially true of carved ornament. Although it may be possible 
to do delicate carving in the coarse grained woods, it is certainly 
not good taste to do so. In the close grained woods, like satinwood, 
mahogany and maple, we expect to see delicate and fine work, while 
in oak, ash and walnut we at once look for a different sort of tiling. 

Carved surfaces, with the background cut entirely through — that 


is, perforated — are serviceable forms of ornamentation for chairs, 
tables., and occasionally for case work. 

What has been said relative to surface carving is applicable to 
this style of work. The design ought to be of a kind in which the 
spaces and the solids balance each other properly, and no portion 
should be cut around so as to leave it joined to the rest of the work 
at one point only. Aside from the poor appearance of such a 
form, it is weak in construction and likely to split off. 

Plate XVII. illustrates perforated carving in use on chair backs, 
and shows how the parts are joined. It will be noticed that the 
perforated ornament is confined to the slat in the middle of the back, 
one-half of which is drawn as it appears when finished, while the 
other half is only blocked out ready for ornament. 

This is quite clear in the shield-back design, where the middle slat 
is simple in form. The other chair has a more elaborate slat, and 
its character as such is almost hidden by the form of the ornament. 
It should be noticed in designing a back of this sort that the general 
outlines are first determined, keeping in mind the constructive prin- 
ciples. In the chair illustrated the outline of the back is drawn first ; 
next the ellipses composing the slat, and finally the carving. This 
latter follows carefully the lines of the composition, so as not to 
destroy the original forms. The acanthus on the sides of the center 
ellipse lap close about it, and as the opening in the middle of this 
ellipse was too large for practical purposes or appearance the group 
of husk ornaments was placed in the middle. 

Where the top of the slat, in the form of a horizontal ellipse, joins 
the top rail of the back a dowel is placed. The thickness of the 
material included in the outlines of the ellipse is hardly sufficient to 
make a strong joint, and to have increased the thickness at this point 
only would have destroyed the appearance of the design, unless 
some way had been taken to prevent it. 

This was done by turning a scroll at the point where the dowel 
occurs and filling in between the scroll and top rail with a small 
acanthus. This gives the increased material without injuring the 
appearance, and is a rational method of using carved ornament. 

Applique of metal work is a form of relief ornamentation, in many 
respects closely related to carving. It may be either cast or wrought. 
Castings, called ormolu, are usually of brass plated with gold and 
finished a dull color. They are especially used in the styles of Louis 
XV., Louis XVI. and Empire. In the Louis XV. style much of the 


ornament is applied in places where carving might have been used, 
and it is properly joined with the lines of the article so as to become 
a part of them. In the Louis XVI., to some degree, and in the 
Empire style almost entirely, the applique ornaments are fastened 
directly on a plain surface without any relation to the construction 
whatever, as the article is complete without them. The beauty of 
their use depends on the arrangement of the pieces in relation to 
each other, the way they fill the space which they occupy, and on the 
design and execution of the metal work itself. Much of the metal 
work in ordinary use is poor in both respects. Perhaps the design 
is good and the pattern was well modelled, but so many copies have 
been made, each cast from a previous moulding, instead of from the 
original pattern, that all form and crispness is lost. Such work is 
neither handsome nor decorative, and the designer should discourage 
its use whenever he can. In the best French examples, applique 
metal work is carefully cast, exquisitely chased, so it becomes a 
beautiful piece of workmanship, and it may be admired as such, 
even though its use is not approved. When wrought metal work is 
applied to furniture it is usually in the form of hinge plates, lock 
plates or ornamented straps binding parts of the woodwork together. 
Furniture decorated in this way is best made of a coarse grained 
wood and designed with large, flat surfaces, on which the metal 
may be applied for ornamental effect. Good results are obtained by 
sinking the metal work so it is level with the wood surface, particu- 
larly when in the form of rosettes. 

The marking of the grain of woods used for furniture is in itself 
an ornamentation, and many times it is quite sufficient. Rut to 
increase its decorative effects veneers cut in various ways are used. 
A veneer is a thin slice of wood, and in the choice woods of the 
furniture maker many pieces with rich figures in the grain can be 
had as veneers that otherwise could not be obtained in shape to use. 
Then, also, by cutting a log in different ways, the beauty of the 
grain is exposed so that its value is increased. 

The veneers are not always used entirely like so many boards. 
They are sometimes cut in geometrical patterns, varying in size, and 
the pieces placed side by side in such a manner that the grain of 
adjoining pieces runs in different directions, thus covering the sur- 
face with an almost inconspicuous diaper pattern. 

In this method of using veneers but one kind of wood is required, 
though at times two or more may be used. When a color effect is 


wanted, marquetry is used, introducing the various colored woods, 
metal, shell or ivory, in the form of ornament on a ground of the 
wood of which the furniture is constructed. 

There are no special difficulties to be avoided in designing a 
pattern for inlay. Almost any ornament that appears well in flat 
colors will make good inlay, so that the problem is one of designing 
a conventional ornament suited to decorate the space when rendered 
in flat colors. 

The nearest approach to inlay is ornament painted on the surface 
of the wood. This has been a common and handsome method of 
decorating furniture, though it is not now popular. One method is 
to treat all the ornament flat, similar to inlay ; another is to paint 
natural forms in a realistic way. The ornament is sometimes painted 
on the varnished surface of natural wood, and again, it is placed on 
an enamel. In one class of work, painting is executed on a panel 
first covered by silver or gold leaf, the design introducing figures, 
pastoral scenes, architectural compositions, etc. 

The surrounding parts of the article are thickly varnished, and at 
times specks of gold leaf are mixed with the varnish. Such work is 
more or less an imitation of Japanese lacquer work, but is known as 
Vernis Martin, because during the reign of Louis XV. the brothers 
Martin secured the exclusive right to make furniture varnished in 
this way, they claiming to have discovered the secret of making the 
lacquer used. 

There remains another means for ornamenting the plain surface of 
furniture woodwork. That is by burning on it with a metallic point 
an appropriate design. It is a method that lends itself to successful 
treatment in proper hands. Such examples as are most frequently 
seen are not desirable, largely because the patterns burned are not 
suitable. The color effect is, however, charming, running from soft 
brown tones of a pale color to a deep rich black. A combination of 
carving and burning gives satisfactory results. The wood may be 
light in color, like white maple, and the carving somewhat of the 
Indian (Hindoo) order. This, when complete, has the edges and 
background burned by a cautery. The work then, varnished in the 
usual manner, resembles a little old ivory carving, and is well suited 
to certain rooms. 

Whatever form of ornamentation may be used, it should be borne 
in mind that no amount of decoration will make a poorly propor- 
tioned or badly formed article good. It may be possible to divert the 


eye for a time from the general shape by placing before it a multi- 
tude of small details, but these will generally become tiresome, and 
the article will then be considered as a whole. 

In all design work it is not a question of how much ornament, but 
how well the ornament may be designed. It is advisable to use it 
sparingly, erring, if it may be, one the side of too little rather than 
too much. The object of ornament is to decorate the otherwise plain 
surfaces, and if it does not do this it is better left off. 

The sources of pleasure in all decorative designs are the beauty of 
forms employed and the sense of study having been given to their 
composition. There is satisfaction in examining a piece of ornament 
to find it has been arranged with some regard to the massing of the 
parts, instead of being merely placed at random in a careless way. 
The pleasure of discovering the plan on which an interesting orna- 
ment was built has been experienced by every designer. The foun- 
dation should not be so prominent as to be forced on the mind, but 
it may be so well conceived that a thoughtful study will disclose it 
hidden among the beautiful forms of which the composition is 
made up. 

What may be termed visibility demands attention in the disposi- 
tion of ornament. Much labor and expense are wasted by placing 
the decorative features in positions where they are not seen, or if 
seen, it is to a disadvantage. There is no reason for a finely executed 
ornament so near the floor or far under a table or chair that it can- 
not be seen without getting on the floor; nor is there any sense in 
decorating the frame of a table which is presumably to be covered 
continuously by a cloth. 

Though everyone recognizes the impropriety of the bad disposition 
of ornament in this respect, it is not easily guarded against. The 
designer will find, unless he is extremely careful, that he has 
indicated on his drawings work that will be entirely lost to view. 

Theories of Design, Rendering, Etc. 

IT is necessary that the designer should be familiar with the 
historic styles of architecture and furniture. He should also 
study the characteristic forms and ornamental details of each period. 
This will enable him to recognize the kind of furniture needed to 
harmonize with surroundings, learn what has been made, and store 
his mind with material that suggests new forms and ideas. In many 
instances the designer is required to make his work correspond with 
a historic style. Then his best course is to hunt up good existing 
examples of the style (not necessarily the articles he is working on, 
but any in the style), and with these before him try to give their 
character to the problem. When not restricted in any way, he should 
work out the forms suggested by the purpose for which the furniture 
is used. Study this purpose and consider the character of the mate- 
rial used in meeting it. By working with a knowledge of these 
requirements, a design may be made that does not resemble any 
style. It is more probable, however, a close adherence to the de- 
mands of the problem will lead to the employment of a style, and it 
is well that it should, as then some good example may be taken as a 
model. There are excellent models for modern furniture in all 
styles, though many of them may not be suited to exact reproduction, 
owing to change of customs. But, when possible, furniture should 
have the characteristics of some recognized style. 

Many poor designs are due to a striving to produce something new 
and original, different from what is seen every day. The result is 
rarely pleasing. Any article that is designed with the intention of 
making it odd, peculiar or picturesque is usually poor. Aim to make 
it beautiful ; not by disregarding styles, but by working upon 
rational methods. The result will be furniture with possibly but little 
ornament, and it may be noticeably plain and simple. But it is not 
desirable that all furniture should be richly ornamented, and over- 
loading with ornament is, of course, to be avoided. Study good 


examples, whether ancient or modern, and if an article appeals to 
you as particularly good try and find why it does so. Make a memo- 
randum of it and put it in a scrap-book for future use. Often, a long 
time after seeing several objects, it happens that some one of them is 
recalled vividly, while the others are forgotten. This impression is 
caused either by the value of the material from which the object is 
made, the beauty, the ingenuity of mechanical construction, or the 
eccentricity of design, and it should be valued accordingly. 

The secret of successful study is the knowing what to select and 
how to use the material on hand. To know what not to do is almost 
as good as knowing what to do. It cannot be expected that a 
draughtsman will make a good sketch for an article unless he knows 
what he is trying to draw. The object should be as clearly defined in 
the mind as if the completed work was before him; otherwise his 
drawing will be vague and uncertain. 

As the purpose of the sketch is to show someone, usually a person 
ignorant of conventional methods of draughtsmanship, the appear- 
ance of the completed furniture, too much care cannot be taken in 
making the sketch accurate and showing the detail in a way that will 
leave little doubt in the mind what is intended, that there may be no 
cause for dissatisfaction with the completed article because the 
drawing was not understood. 

The sketch should represent the article correctly, and sufficient 
skill to make such a drawing is obtained by practice. There is no 
better preparation for designing than drawing from existing ex- 
amples of good furniture. By sitting in front of a chair, for in- 
stance, and drawing it as it appears, a knowledge of the way its 
curves and lines should be represented in a sketch is obtained. It 
should be drawn as it is seen, not as it is known to be ; that is, if the 
curve of the arm looks like a straight line, draw it so. If it is 
necessary that the curve appear on the sketch, change the position 
of the object so as to present the line as it is wanted, but do not make 
the drawing incorrect for the sake of presentation. A position can 
easily be taken that will show all that is necessary. If one drawing 
does not suffice to do so, make others rather than draw incorrectly. 

The completed sketch should be as perfect a picture of the article 
as the draughtsman can make it in the time available. This is 
preferably a perspective drawing, though not necessarily one con- 
structed mechanically. In fact, a free-hand drawing, made without 
the use of the conventional scales, is better. Of course, a knowledge 
of the principles and rules for making mechanical perspective is 


necessary to draw in this way, and if this knowledge is applied as the 
drawing proceeds the result will be satisfactory. 

The object may be drawn of any convenient size and in a position 
that represents it to the best advantage. Certain articles may be 
drawn larger than others, and yet appear relatively of the proper 
dimensions. For instance, a chair may be drawn quite large to show 
all its details; while a cabinet is better sketched at a smaller scale, 
as otherwise it appears too large. 

It is curious that to the unitiated a large drawing or photograph 
represents a large object, and vice versa a small drawing a small 
object. So, when a light, delicate piece of furniture is to be repre- 
sented the sketch should be small and delicately drawn. 

Chairs look well when drawn so the front is at an angle of about 
45 degrees to the picture plane and with the corner nearest to the 
eye at a scale of one and a half inches to the foot. 

It is not to be expected that a draughtsman can always have his 
ideas sufficiently formulated to enable him to draw a picture at once. 
Some preliminary work is required. A scale study may be made in 
orthographic projection to determine the proportion of the whole 
and the arrangement of the parts, and occasionally rough, full size 
drawings of parts requiring special study are made. 

These projection drawings may be of any convenient scale, but 
most draughtsmen use one inch or one and one-half inch to the foot. 
With drawings made at these scales before him, the draughtsman 
has little difficulty in making his sketch correctly. 

As any design becomes more attractive by a neat presentation, it 
is well to make first a study of the sketch with pencil, obtaining the 
general proportions and outline. Then, to save the time of making 
erasures and corrections, lay a piece of tracing paper over this rough 
study and make a more careful drawing. Repeat the process of 
making tracing copies, correcting the drawing each time until a 
satisfactory sketch is obtained. This may then be transferred to 
bristol board for the final rendering, or the last tracing copy is 
mounted and used as the final sketch. This is, indeed, a good way 
to do. 

It is advisable to keep the rough studies, tracings and notes made 
when working up a design, either by pasting in scrap-books or 
classifying in portfolios. They will often be found convenient for 
duplicating sketches, suggesting ideas, etc. 

The mediums and methods of rendering the final sketch are 
dependent on the personality of the draughtsman. The materials 











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I. oris XV. CHAIR. 









used by one designer might not please another, and each may have 
a different way of presenting the same object. Certain methods 
have been used by the best men, and seem to give satisfactory 
results, but someone may rightfully claim that other ways are 
equally as good. 

The student can study the advantages and disadvantages of the 
leading methods and choose the one best suited to himself. 

The lead pencil is an exceedingly pleasant medium for furniture 
sketching when used on a smooth, soft card, like ordinary mounting 
board. The point should not be too sharp, and with pencils of 
different degrees of hardness any amount of elaboration may be 
given the sketch. It may be delicately drawn in outline or it may be 
bold, broad and shaded if desired. Pen and ink are perhaps the 
best instruments for a clear indication of the facts. They are used 
by the majority of designers of experience, and many seem to 
prefer them to any other mediums. The inks available are the liquid 
India inks, Prout's brown, and writing fluids. 

India ink has the advantage of giving a solid black line that does 
not change and that may be photographed for reproduction readily. 
It has the objection of being thick and of making an intensely black 
line, sometimes too heavy on smooth paper, unless a fine pen is used. 

Prout's brown ink is not as intense in color as India ink, but it 
requires the proper combination of pen and paper to give the fine, 
delicate line best suited to furniture work. 

Writing fluid, when used with a smooth surface writing paper and 
a moderately fine pen, gives very pleasing results. It flows readily, 
produces a fine line without the use of an exceedingly fine pen, and 
though not black when first used, it turns shortly after. The paper 
should be selected according to the ink and pen used ; rough paper 
requires a coarse pen, and vice versa. Bristol board, India ink and 
a Gillot 303 pen make a good combination. 

Sketches may be made in color, but this medium sometimes makes 
the furniture appear clumsy and uninteresting. The amount of 
small detail necessary to make a sketch serviceable is lost in a water 
color if it is broadly done, and if it is otherwise the drawing requires 
considerable time in rendering, besides seeming hard and mechan- 
ical. Water color is an excellent medium, however, for sketches of 
upholstered work. It enables the draughtsman to show the color of 
the goods, the pattern, and also to indicate the tufting with the least 
labor. Occasionally a combination of line drawing and color is 



serviceable, but it requires judicious handling, or the result is 
anything but artistic. 

The purchaser of furniture is sometimes at a loss to know how 
much is necessary to furnish a room comfortably, and he can be 
advised most readily by the designer if a plan of the room is made 
and on it the furniture is laid out at scale. A convenient scale is 
one-half inch to the foot. 




The "Louts" Furniture Styles. 

IT is natural that the historic styles of furniture should corre- 
spond with those of architecture. The architectural arts as 
practiced after the Middle Ages may be divided into the Renais- 
sance and the Rococo styles. The styles did not confine themselves 
to any one of the European countries, but spread from one to 
another, developing more or less in each and continuing for various 

The Renaissance began in Italy early in the fifteenth century and 
reached its zenith in that country in the same epoch, but it was at 
the beginning of the sixteenth century that it became the model for 
other countries. In Italy the Renaissance, sometimes called the 
Italian style, has been divided into two varieties — the early Floren- 
tine and Venetian, and the Roman. 

The first of these was confined to the cities which gave their 
names to it, but the second extended over Western Europe, where 
it ran its course, becoming less and less refined, until it finally gave 
way to the Rococo. 

It is the decline of the Renaissance, the Rococo and the reaction 
which immediately followed it which now concern us directly. It 
was then that the elaborate, showy fashions which are today spoken 
of as the "French styles" flourished. The better tendencies of die 
Renaissance influence in France had pretty much disappeared in the 
latter part of the seventeenth century, and the natural laws of 
structural design were neglected. This state of things progressed 
until it reached the crisis during the reign of Louis XV., which is 
especially characterized by this class of design. A reaction resulted, 
producing the style of the time of Louis XVI., which was followed 
later by extreme severity in design at the time of the Empire. In 
speaking of the styles, it is usually customary to couple the name of 
the country with that of the style, as for instance, French Renais- 
sance, German Rococo. This is not always a definite indication of 


the exact character of the work, however, as the style may have 
extended over a long period or have varied greatly during the time 
it flourished. 

In order to be more explicit, the name of the ruler is substituted 
for that of the country, thus : Louis XIV., Elizabethan, etc. When 
an architect or cabinet maker has made himself especially prominent 
by his work, which has a certain individuality aside from the 
general characteristic of the times, his name is sometimes linked 
with that of the ruler, thus: Lepautre's Louis XIV., or Martin's 
Louis XV. work. It is more especially true, perhaps, in furniture 
work that the maker's name is used as the title of a style, and it 
is then usually the result of his adhering quite closely to some par- 
ticular methods of manufacture rather than any direct variance 
from the prevailing style. When the name of a maker is so used 
we ought to be sufficiently well informed to know at once the 
peculiarities and period, even though the dates may not be recalled. 
It is not sufficient to know that Boulle work is in the Louis XIV. 
style; we must know what Boulle work is, and also what is the 
character of the Louis XIV. style that distinguishes it from other 

When we analyze furniture of the Louis XIV. epoch we find 
that under the elaborate ornament the constructive form and the 
strength and stability is retained. Cabinets and similar articles 
with an almost severe rectangular body without curves to relieve 
them are common. Sometimes a corner is enriched by a post 
ending in a short curve as it joins the foot, and occasionally curved 
lines are used freely. Toward the end of the period they became 
more common, until finally the Louis XV. style, with its tortuous 
lines, was evolved. During the best period of the Louis XIV. 
furniture such curves as are introduced are curves of single flexure ; 
or. if two curves are employed, they are generally separated by 
a straight line. This is particularly true of the plans of cabinets, 
bureaus, frames and tops of tables. 

The plans in the Louis XV. style of work are made up of lines 
having greater curvature. Usually the curves are doubled and 
flow into each other without the intervention of the straight line. 
The straight line has been avoided in Louis XV. work, and also to 
a great extent all flat surfaces. The sides and faces of cabinets 
which are flat in both the Louis XIV. and Louis XVI. periods are 
during the Louis XV. period bowed or swelled out in the middle. 






The legs of Louis XIV. chairs and tables are quite erect, and 
though the outline may be curved or broken, there is generally a 
sense of support. If a line is drawn vertically through the middle 
of the leg it usually divides it symmetrically. Louis XV. legs are 
bent in curves of contrary flexure, and as the style declined these 
curves became so great as to destroy all feeling of structural support. 

The reaction introduced during the reign of Louis XVI. pro- 
duced delicate turned and square tapered legs without any curves. 
These legs are not nearly as heavy as those of the Louis XIV. 
work, but are upright and symmetrical on a vertical axis. 

Aside from the general contour of furniture, we have the changes 
in the styles of ornamentation to aid us in judging the period of 
the article. 

It is difficult to determine what is the period of an article unless 
it was made during the years when the style was at its zenith, for 
otherwise it represents more or less the transition. Details that 
may be considered as characteristic of a style may also be found 
in that preceding or following it. The acanthus leaf is an orna- 
mental feature found in all styles, but the details of the lobes and 
serrations differ somewhat in each. During the reign of Louis 
XIV. it has a strung-out appearance, as if blown by a strong wind, 
and the lobes are deeply cut. At times it is twisted and scrolled, 
so as to have a strong feeling of rotary motion. The veinage is 
marked firmly and carried well back on the stems. In the next 
period the lobes and serrations are more finely cut, each apex being 
acute and more or less sharply curled at the end. Each division 
of the leaf may be twisted or curled, as may also the entire leaf. 

The Louis XVI. acanthus is less free, the general flow of the 
leaf being in one direction The parts of the leaf are not separated, 
as much as in either of the other styles, but each lobe is divided 
and serrated. The edges are not sharp, but are rounded somewhat. 

The acanthus is only one of the many ornaments employed. In 
Louis XIV. work there usually appears a series of small pendant 
bell flowers. The upper is the largest, the others diminishing in 
size downward. At times they are used in conjunction with a 
radiating scroll ornament resembling a conventionalized scallop 
shell, or crown, usually composed of five or seven rays ending in a 
scroll. A similar ornament is sometimes used as a head piece 
for masks and busts. Later, during the Louis XV. style, this 
becomes a fully formed shell. The head of a satyr or faun in 




brass is applied at the upper end of table legs and the cloven hoof 
is used as a foot. 

Bronze applique ornaments, representing the Medusa's head or 
mask, crowned by the rays mentioned above ; trophies with a mono- 
gram ; coats of mail, etc., are common, though they are not confined 
to the style of Louis XIV. 

The conical stub foot, either ornamented by spiral flutes, acan- 
thus or turned mouldings, and the hoof, seem to be a usual support 
for Louis XIV. cabinets. 

A popular ornament for Louis XIV. inlay is an irregular scroll 
resembling the tendrils of a vine. 

Louis XV. ornament abounds in shell and scroll work, inter- 
twined with wreaths, garlands and naturalistic flowers, the whole 
resembling a series of C's linked together. The end of nearly 
every scroll or curve is a leaf, either half or fully developed, and 
centre ornaments are often a shell, from which branch out scrolls 
and curves. 

The head of a female figure or a satyr, used extensively during 
the Louis IV. period, is replaced by a combination of scrolls and 
leaves, with possibly a group of flowers or a shell introduced as a 
centre motive. 

Chairs which before this, and again later, had straight backs and 
legs, are made with bandy legs, curved arms and an irregular 
contour for the backs. Panel mouldings are not mitred at a right 
angle but are united at the corners by a curve. Often the moulding 
is bent to a curve throughout its entire length. 

The Louis XVI. style is in many respects more severe than those 
which had preceded it, and it is said to owe its origin to the renewed 
interest in classic forms induced by the excavations at Pompeii at 
the time. This style did away with the many scrolls and curved 
forms, substituting straight lines and rectangular panels. 

Ornamental metal work continued to be an important feature, 
and was exquisitely modelled. The woodwork was veneered and 
inlaid in geometrical or diaper patterns of various colored woods, 
with flower designs, wreaths, etc., in the centre of a panel, bor- 
dered with delicate gilt mouldings. Table and chair legs became 
straight, turned or square, tapering towards the bottom and fluted. 
The ornamental work of the period is largely made up of leaves, 
flowers, wreaths and garlands extremely well modelled and na- 




A characteristic ornament is a small husk and bead, which fills 
the fluting of the legs near the bottom or top, but rarely if ever 
extending the full length. Aside from the general forms and the 
ornamental details described above, there are varieties of material 
and workmanship introduced by the furniture makers in each style. 

The desire for great show and magnificence in the furniture and 
decoration which was exhibited during the reign of Louis XIV. 
has perhaps never been exceeded. In looking over a collection of 
furniture of this period, two distinct varieties are seen. One is 
ornamented with inlay, veneers and metal applique ornaments ; the 
other is richly carved. The inlay is of such a peculiar kind that 
once observed it is readily recognized again. Firstly, because of 
the materials ; secondly, because of the style of the ornament. This 
work was made by Boulle, the most celebrated cabinetmaker of 
the Louis XIV. reign, and it is known as Boulle work. Cabinets, 
tables, etc., decorated in this manner are called Boulle cabinets, 
Boulle tables, etc. 

Andre Charles Boulle was probably born November II, 1642. 
His first work, executed during his apprenticeship to his father, is 
not readily distinguished from that of die parent, but in 1679 he 
was permitted to work for His Majesty, and received the titles of 
architect, engraver and carver. Prior to this he had obtained honors 
because of his skill as a maker of inlay, gilder and chaser. He 
received large prices for his work, but was always in need of 
money, owing to his passion for collecting prints, drawings and 
objects of art, which caused him to spend all he could earn. 

Furniture by Boulle has a simple outline, and is dependent on 
the brass mounts and inlays for its enrichments. It is inlaid in 
colored woods, brass, copper and tortoise shell of different colors. 
He also applied to his furniture gilt bronzes, either figures or bas- 
reliefs, and mouldings, often modelled by himself. The original 
use of these chased brass mouldings was to cover the edges of the 
inlay veneers, but afterwards brass mounts were added as enriched 
surface decorations. 

Boulle sometimes worked from his own designs, but more often 
from those of Jean Berain, whose arabesques and grotesques form 
the motive for much of the inlay. At the beginning of his career 
Boulle probably confined his inlay work largely to the use of 
different colored woods, and he never entirely abandoned them. 
Later he executed the style of work by which he is best known. 


Lours xiv. 




This consists of brass inlaid on a ground of black tortoise shell, 
and the whole surrounded by an ornamental frame of modelled 
brasswork. He at times used a background of different colors by 
applying the shell over a surface colored according to the effect 

By way of obtaining a variety and for economy, Boulle some- 
times made two similar inlaid articles, of which one had a shell 
ground inlaid with brass and the other a brass ground inlaid with 
shell. The ornament being the same in both, they were obtained 
at one sawing by counterchanging the parts, with no waste of 
material. Before he died (February 29, 1732) the fashion tor 
furniture veneered widi shell began to give way to that of satin- 
wood, with brass applique ornaments. 

During the first years of the reign of Louis XVI., Boulle work 
became a fad among collectors, and several cabinet makers are 
known to have made copies of original pieces, but they are said to 
be weak and to show fussy chasing and tricky expression when 
compared to the bold, vigorous work of Boulle himself. 

It may not be out of place to state that Boulle furniture is suited 
for decorative purposes only, and not for practical use, as the 
shell and brass veneers are constantly peeling off. 

The second class of work belonging to the reign of the "Grand 
King" was richly carved in wood. Some of this was made by Jean 
Lepautre, who began life as a cabinetmaker, but later practiced 
architecture. His real influence, however, was felt as an orna- 
mentist and was produced by engravings of his compositions. His 
ornament is not as delicate as that of Berain, but it is more archi- 
tectural and is full of character. It is based largely on the Roman 
work and is crowded with figures entwined with leaves, scrolls, etc. 

Tables of this period are supported by legs resembling a square 
baluster, decorated with masks and rich foliated ornaments. Be- 
neath the top or suspended from the middle of the frame of the 
table is a centre ornament of perforated carving. Some of the 
console tables have legs curving in an arc, from the top downward 
toward the centre of the table and entwined with dragons or griffins. 
At the upper end of the leg, where it joins the frame, is perhaps 
a mask or figure. The tops of these tables are always of rare 

Chairs have a rectangular back, a carved frame ornamented with 
foliated and cartouche forms. The legs of the same square baluster 


form we have noticed on the tables and the whole chair has an 
appearance of ceremony and pomp. The seat and back are of 
cane, or upholstered with tapestry of the Gobelins or Beauvais make. 
Such was the chair used in royal galleries during the seventeenth 
century, when its use was largely restricted by etiquette. 

When Louis XIV. died his successor was too young to rule, and 
it was during the Regency, a time of corruption and extravagance, 
that stateliness of the salon gave way to the elaborate over- 
ornamented boudoir, and the change in furniture style took place. 

Louis XV. reigned from 1715 to 1774, and the style of furniture 
associated with his name is that belonging to the best period of 
the French Rococo. 

The fashion for furniture of ebony and inlay of shell gave way 
to that ornamented with veneers of rosewood, amaranth and brass 

Elaborately carved woodwork, wholly or partly covered with gold 
leaf ; lacquer work, with Japanese panels, paintings of shepherds, 
nymphs, saytrs and love scenes was introduced. The artist whose 
work exercised a great deal of influence on furniture at this time 
was Charles Cressent (1685-1768). His grandfather was a cabinet- 
maker and his father a sculptor. The cabinet work is but a 
secondary part in Cressent's furniture. It is but a foundation on 
which is placed richly modelled bronze ornaments of a light and 
delicate character, quite different from that of Boulle, and yet not 
so small in detail as that which was employed in the reign of the 
next king. One peculiar feature of the bas-reliefs by Cressent is 
the representation of monkeys in acrobatic or musical acts. These 
subjects are carefully chased, well composed, and are an affectation 
of ornament quite a la mode at the time. 

During the reign of Louis XIV., Chinese lacquer work began 
to gain favor, and several furniture makers endeavored to imitate 
it. A Dutchman was the first to successfully do this, but during 
the reign of Louis XV. (about 1744) a Simon Martin, the youngest 
of several brothers, varnish makers, was granted the exclusive right 
to manufacture all sorts of work after the manner of the Chinese 
and Japanese. 

It was not, properly speaking, a new invention, but Martin per- 
fected the experiments made by his predecessors and gave a greater 
field to the production. 

The brothers Martin attempted at first to only imitate the Chinese 



lacquers, and in working thus they discovered the composition 
Vernis Martin, which afterward came so much in vogue. In the 
beginning they applied it to the decoration of carriages and 
sedan chairs, but soon its use extended to furniture. They did 
not copy exactly Oriental lacquer, but painted ornaments on a 
ground of yellow, brown, blue or green, spangled with gold. The 
subjects are usually pastoral, surrounded with a border composed 
of garlands of flowers. Many of the compositions seem to have 
been inspired by Watteau. Louis XVI. reigned from 1774 to 1793. 
During his reign there were many makers whose names are familiar 
to those who have studied French furniture, but not one of them 
introduced any individuality that has made him known to the 
public. Many articles were ornamented with extremely rich and 
delicate chased brasswork. principally of a floral character. Others 
were of carved wood, gilded or painted. 

The hardwoods showing a rich grain, like rosewood, mahogany 
and maple, were used as veneers, arranged as plain panels or cut and 
glued together in such a manner that the grain formed a pattern 
on the panel. 

In the centre of the panels, inlaid in colored woods, were wreaths, 
bunches of flowers and vases of fruits. These panels were sur- 
rounded by a border of diaper work in three or four quiet colored 
veneers. Chairs and sofas have generally a straight turned leg, 
which is fluted either vertically or has the fluting carried spirally 
around it. The backs of the chairs are rectangular or oval, with 
the frame elaborately ornamented by bead and spindle, heart and 
tongue, or similar mouldings. In the middle of the top rail of the 
back is a carved bunch of flowers, or some device tied with a 
riband. Often the lovers' knot alone is the central ornament. 




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